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Immigration lawyers Ilona Dzhamgarova and her husband Artur Arkadyan face prison sentences after they admitted to helping clients obtain asylum in the US by providing false information to immigration authorities. Prosecutors filed two memos requesting that Dzhamgarova should be sentenced to 33 to 41 months in prison whilst her husband gets 8 to 14 months. Dzhamgarova’s criminal scheme, which used victims of domestic violence and LGBTQ people to obtain asylum in the US, was in operation at least from 2018 to 2020. The final decision on their sentences will be decided by a judge.
The prosecutor’s office demands to sentence immigration lawyer Ilona Dzhamgarova to 3 years in prison
The prosecutor’s office demands that immigration lawyers Ilona Dzhamgarova and her husband Artur Arkadyan be sentenced to prison. The prosecution made such a demand after they admitted that they helped clients of their law office obtain asylum in the United States by providing false information to immigration authorities, writes Law 360.
In two memos filed on May 24, prosecutors said Ilona Dzhamgarova should be sentenced to 33 to 41 months in prison and her husband Artur Arkadyan to 8 to 14 months. Memorandums of the prosecutor’s office are advisory in nature, the final decision remains with the judge.
Prosecutors said Dzhamgarova deserved a prison sentence because she used the asylum system for illegal purposes. She was not the passive participant in the fraud she claims to be, but rather the leader of the operation.
“The asylum system is designed to help the most vulnerable people – those who fear imprisonment, torture or death due to factors they cannot control (their religion, nationality, ethnicity, political opinion or sexual orientation). Dzhamgarova used this system cynically, deliberately forcing at least 90 clients who were not afraid of inhumane acts against them to deceive USCIS officials into thinking that these people were eligible for asylum,” prosecutors said in a statement.
According to prosecutors, Dzhamgarova’s criminal scheme was in operation for several years, at least from 2018 to 2020. The investigation found that the lawyer advised clients to impersonate LGBT people and victims of domestic violence in order to obtain asylum in America.
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In her statement, filed on May 17, Dzhamgarova requested that she be sentenced to house arrest and probation. As a justification for this request, she referred to a difficult childhood in Soviet Azerbaijan. This allegedly made her want to help others after she immigrated to the US at the age of 15. Dzhamgarova described the devastation she experienced when her law practice was closed following her arrest. She emphasized that she had no criminal record and stated that the alleged behavior was “uncharacteristic” for her, dictated by events and circumstances.
Other defendants in the case
The government said Arkadyan’s role in the scheme was smaller and limited to talking to one client who was advised by a lawyer in November 2020 to join an LGBTQ group to use in his asylum application. According to prosecutors, Arkadyan taught the client to lie under oath during the immigration proceedings. This is a serious offense given that Arkadyan is a licensed lawyer.
Arkadyan’s lawyers are asking for a non-custodial sentence. Arkadyan admitted that he was aware that his client was “pretending to be gay” in order to obtain asylum. However, he had no previous convictions, so he expects a lenient sentence.
The third defendant, blogger Igor Reznik, who wrote false affidavits for Arkadyan and Dzhamgarova’s clients, is also asking for a probationary or house arrest sentence.
Resnick cites that he is allegedly the sole breadwinner for his wife and young children, and imprisonment would be a “terrible burden” for his family. Reznick said he had already “essentially served his sentence of one year at home.”
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