School officials at a Duluth school are facing charges of bringing immigrants into the country to work at local businesses under the guise of hosting them as international students at the school. The federal crimes charged include conspiracy, falsifying documents, fraudulently charging tuition and undermining the purpose of a US student visa.
The alleged charges are a result of a federal investigation by the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency along with the FBI. The school administrators reportedly helped the immigrants obtain visas, passports, school transcripts and bank statements, among other documents.
One staff member will potentially face perjury charges after she signed I-20 forms that allow foreigners to stay in the US while attending school. Under the penalties of perjury, signing the forms signifies that proper documentation has been examined and the immigrant has the proper authorization to remain in the country.
The federal grand jury handed down an indictment of one conspiracy charge and eight counts of falsifying statements in documents.
Criminal charges require that the defendant have the proper state of mind, or intent, to commit the crime. Perjury, for example, requires that a person knowingly made false or misleading statements. A prosecutor would have to prove that the person intentionally made false statements.
Conspiracy likewise requires intent to commit the act. Two or more people have to agree to commit a crime, knowing full well that the act is a crime, and then take a step toward committing the crime. If a prosecutor is unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an agreement to commit the crime or that a clear step toward commission of the crime was taken, then acquittal may be in sight.
Someone who has been accused of any federal crime can take some comfort in the fact that an experienced attorney will be able to work to poke holes in a prosecutor's case and ensure that every route to clearing the charges will be explored. From excluding evidence to demonstrating alibis, a skilled attorney can fight the accusations to try to get the charges completely dropped.