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Lawyer Ilona Dzhamgarova and her husband plead guilty to immigration fraud


Nadezhda Verbitskaya

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Brooklyn-based Russian-speaking immigration lawyer Ilona Dzhamgarova and her husband, also licensed as a lawyer, Artur Arkadyan on January 25 pleaded guilty in conspiracy to commit immigration fraud. Writer Igor Reznik, who is involved in the same case, pleaded guilty on August 24, 2022.

According to investigators, the defendants prepared false U.S. asylum applications and trained clients to lie under oath during immigration procedures.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “The defendants – a husband and wife, licensed immigration attorneys, and a writer who worked with them – trampled on the asylum process in our country. It is designed to protect vulnerable people who fear persecution because of their race, religion, political opinion, or sexual orientation. When lawyers cynically exploit this system for financial gain by making false claims and teaching clients to lie under oath, they abuse the trust placed in them.”

The essence of the charges

Between November 2018 and December 2021, Ilona Dzhamgarova, an immigration lawyer, ran the Dzhamgarova Firm in Brooklyn. This company mainly worked with clients from Russia and post-Soviet countries. They were assisted in obtaining visas, asylum, citizenship and other forms of legal status in the United States.

Among other things, Dzhamgarova Firm advised clients on how they can obtain asylum in America. At the same time, as the investigation established, the company provided assistance with asylum even to those who did not have legal grounds for obtaining it. The firm prepared and filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-589 (application for asylum) with incorrect data. Asylum-seekers were told false stories of persecution and forged reasons for granting asylum. Employees of the firm, among other things, taught some clients to lie under oath during an interview with USCIS.

Dzhamgarova advised clients to apply for asylum in the United States on the basis that they allegedly belong to the LGBT community and were persecuted in their home countries because of this. At the same time, the investigation found that the lawyer knew that these clients were not related to LGBT people and did not suffer from persecution.

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In addition, the Dzhamgarova Firm hired writers, including Igor Reznik, who deliberately invented and composed false stories about the persecution of clients. These affidavits outlined the personal stories of clients, but much of the text was fiction, including events and incidents of alleged persecution that were entirely made up by Resnick.

What's next

All three defendants pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud. Each of them faces up to five years in prison. The maximum possible sentence is given here for informational purposes only, the final sentence will be determined by the judge.

Dzhamgarova and Arkadyan are to be sentenced by the US District Court on May 31, 2023, and Reznik on May 5, 2023.

As ForumDaily New York wrote earlier:

  • Dzhamgarov and Arkadyan арестовали in February 2021. They were later released on bail pending trial.
  • On the same day, other Russian-speaking immigration lawyers and consultants were also arrested, in particular Yulia Grinberg and Yuri Mosha. They are involved in other asylum fraud cases. In autumn 2022 Mosha pleaded guilty. You can read about how these cases are developing, when to wait for trials and sentences. here.
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