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CHICAGO — A Chicago attorney has been indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly providing false and fraudulent information to U.S. authorities to obtain immigration benefits for his foreign national clients.
MOHAMMAD REZA BANIASSADI owned and operated The Law Offices of Reza Baniassadi, which had offices in Chicago. From 2013 to 2020, Baniassadi conspired with two employees of his firm and others to knowingly provide false and fraudulent information to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of his foreign national clients who were seeking U.S. immigration benefits, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Baniassadi advised clients to enter into sham marriages with U.S. citizens or lawful permanent U.S. residents in order to obtain benefits, the indictment states. Among other schemes charged in the indictment, Baniassadi allegedly helped clients cheat on oral civics exams, falsified claims of spousal abuse purportedly suffered by clients, and fabricated job offers from U.S. companies that would purportedly sponsor clients for residency.
The indictment charges Baniassadi, 65, of Chicago, with one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and five individual counts of falsifying applications for immigration benefits. Baniassadi is considered a fugitive. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.
The indictment was announced by Morris Pasqual, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Joseph V. Cuffari, Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey B. Rubenstein.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Each count of visa fraud is punishable by up to ten years in federal prison, while the conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of five years.