Photo Courtesy of JCS Immigration and Visa Law
By Michael V. Cusenza
The leader of a Rego Park-based nonprofit has admitted to her role in an immigration fraud scheme, federal prosecutors announced on Monday.
Stella Boyadjian, 48, who operated Big Apple Music Awards Foundation Inc., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bring aliens unlawfully into the United States, visa fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
According to officials, between January 2013 and December 2014, Boyadjian and two others engaged in a widespread visa fraud scheme to bring foreign nationals illegally into the U.S. by fraudulently claiming to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that they were members of traditional Armenian performance groups and thus qualified for P-3 visas as “culturally unique” artists or entertainers.
The three conspirators, according to prosecutors, solicited foreign nationals and, in exchange for fees up to $10,000, prepared and filed fraudulent P-3 visa applications. In furtherance of the scheme, the conspirators purchased fraudulent documentation to support the applications, including fake dance certificates and staged photo sessions where the foreign nationals wore Armenian dance costumes to make it appear as though they were traditional Armenian musicians, singers, and performers. Once successfully in the U.S., some recipients of the fraudulently obtained P-3 visas paid additional fees to the conspirators to obtain extensions of their stays. Boyadjian and the other conspirators also furthered their visa fraud scheme by creating flyers and other documents purporting to hold BAMA-sponsored concerts and events in the United States.
“Fraudsters who undermine our immigration system threaten our public safety and our national security,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan. “The Justice Department will not tolerate abuses of our nation’s immigration laws…We will root out immigration fraud and bring those responsible to justice.”
When sentenced, Boyadjian faces a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment for visa fraud, and an additional mandatory consecutive sentence of two years’ imprisonment for aggravated identity theft.