U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson, Southern District of Texas has announced sentencing and convicting of a Houston based Immigration attorney for money laundering and conspiring to engage in visa fraud. Kenneth L. Rothey, of Houston, pleaded guilty last Tuesday and was sentenced to 14 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison.
Rothey was a fugitive living in China from 2005 until July 2008 The ICE investigation, initiated in May 2001, lead to the indictment and subsequent extradition of Rothey from China to United States.
Evidence submitted in court said that Rothey and others created an illusory business relationship with Chinese and U.S. companies by entering into contracts of sale in exchange for a fee. On paper, each of the eight US companies was shown as a Chinese subsidiary. Rothey and members of his firm prepared and presented fraudulent petitions and supporting documents on behalf of their clients to the former INS. Ten Chinese clients were willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain permanent resident status through employment-based visas.
Rothey admitted his participation in the money laundering scheme between January 1999 and December 2002. One of the accused Golfarini owned and operated Capitol Services Group, a brokerage firm used to conceal money earned from the Chinese clients willing to pay as much as $100,000 each for immigrant visas and work authorization. Golfarini also used Capitol Services Group to promote the visa fraud scheme by paying recruiters who located Houston-based businesses willing to enter into contracts of sale with Chinese-based businesses and to pay representatives of the Houston-based businesses down payments between $20,000 and $30,000 toward the purported sale. Golfarini was sentenced to 18 months in prison in June 2007.
The investigation was initiated after ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) received complaint about Rothey. A search warrant was subsequently executed at Rothey’s law office and Golfarini’s business in July 2004. This case was investigated by ICE and Internal Revenue Service- Criminal Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Doug Davis and Gregg Costa.