Alleged victim testifies against recruiter

ONE of the alleged victims in the labor fraud case testified on Tuesday in federal court.

Mohammed Azzul Islam said he knew one of the five defendants, Zeaur Dalu, as they grew up together in the same village in Bangladesh.

In 2015, Islam said Dalu informed him about a job opportunity on Saipan that paid over $1,800 a month. Dalu also told him that he could bring his wife and children with him, Islam said.

He said he did not make an instant decision because Dalu told him Islam needed to pay about $15,000 to get the job.

Islam said he talked to his family about selling his rent-a- car business and his vehicle to raise the amount asked by Dalu.

Islam said after raising money, he made payments to Dalu’s mother at the instruction of Dalu.

Islam said Dalu’s mother did not give him a receipt. She reminded him that they came from the same village and that he should trust her and Dalu, who was on Saipan at the time.

Islam said his visa arrived nine months after he made the payment.

Attorneys Bruce Berline and Robert T. Torres, representing co-defendants Mohammed Rafiqul Islam and Muksedur Rahman, asked the court to direct the witness to specify the dates of these alleged events. The witness said he could not recall the exact dates.

According to Mohammed Azzul Islam, he made additional payments to Dalu when Dalu came back to Bangladesh from Saipan.

When he finally had to sign a contract with United Brothers, doing business as TBK Auto Cares, Mohammed Azzul Islam said he was concerned as the contract was already pre-signed.

Besides Rahman and Mohamed Rafiqul Islam, the other defendants are David Trung Quoc Phan, president of United Brothers, doing business as TBK Auto Cares, represented by attorney Steven Pixley; Rahmans’s wife Shahinur Akter, represented by attorney Colin Thompson; and Analyn Nunez, document preparer at United Brothers, represented by attorney Janet King.

They were charged with mail fraud, fraud in labor contracting, and misuse of visas and permits.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney James Benedetto, the defendants recruited the workers from Bangladesh and promised them an income of at least $1,500 per month, and also promised that they would be given lawful permanent residence status in the U.S. or green cards while charging each worker between $15,000 and $20,000 in exchange for the promised jobs and visa.

The prosecution said Phan received compensation from Rahman in exchange for filing CW-1 petitions for the workers.

Nunez mailed the fraudulent CW-1 applications by U.S. mail, the prosecution said.

On Tuesday, Monica Verma, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services senior staffer, testified that United Brothers/TBK Auto Shop has not been “debarred.”

Another witness, Michael Del Rosario Lansangan, U.S. Department of Homeland Security- Investigation Unit special agent and a co-investigator in the case, said the initial investigation started through a referral from a lawyer representing the alleged victims.

He said the 14 witnesses who were interviewed identified Rahman as the “originator.”

Lansangan, who identified Rahman in open court, said the alleged victims told him they had little or no work from TBK Auto Cares.

Asked by attorney Robert Torres if he was aware that the workers lied about their work experience and certifications, Lansangan said he learned about it after the workers admitted to misrepresenting their work experience.

Torres then asked if the alleged victims should be prosecuted.

Lansangan said he could not make that determination, adding that he could only make recommendations.

He said he did not recommend the filing of charges against the alleged victims.

He also said that Homeland Security Investigations has applied for a “continued presence” status for the alleged victims so they can remain and work in the commonwealth.

The jury trial continues today, Wednesday, at 8 a.m. with designated Senior Judge John C. Coughenour presiding.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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