DES MOINES, Iowa — Nearly a dozen people, including one from Kentucky, and a New Jersey corporation accused of visa and mail fraud pleaded not guilty Friday during arraignments in federal court in Des Moines.
Indictments filed last month name 11 people and Vision Systems Group Inc., a South Plainfield, N.J., company that has an office in Coon Rapids, Iowa. Prosecutors accused the information technology company of bringing highly educated foreign workers into the United States to fill supposed vacancies in high-tech jobs.
Trial for the individuals was scheduled for April 27, while proceedings for the corporation were set to begin May 25. Vision Systems is accused of filing documents with the government showing that the workers were employed in Iowa, where they could be paid less than if they worked on the East or West Coast.
Prosecutors alleged that the workers actually worked on the coasts at much higher-wage jobs although they were receiving payment at the prevailing wage in Iowa. That dislocated and displaced U.S. workers who could have been hired for jobs in those locations, prosecutors said.
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The government also is seeking the forfeiture of $7.4 million in proceeds raised through the alleged offenses.
Prosecutors said the workers came to the country under H-1B visas, which allow college-educated foreign workers to come to the United States to fill vacancies in high-tech jobs such as computer programming and engineering.
Among the workers who were arraigned Friday was Karambir Yadav, arrested in Louisville on conspiracy and mail fraud charges.