Phan, 2 others found guilty
Tag: Bangladesh, CNMI, MLAT, Rafiqul Islam
A federal jury has unanimously found businessman David Trung Quoc Phan and his two co-defendants guilty of defrauding Bangladeshi men who were promised jobs in the U.S. and green cards in exchange for cash.
The 12 jurors deliberated for about six hours yesterday and two hours on Tuesday before coming out with the guilty verdict.
Phan was found guilty of two counts of mail fraud, three counts of fraud in foreign labor contracting, and one count of fraud and misuse of visas and permits.
Muksedur Rahman, a welder, was found guilty of two counts of mail fraud and three counts of fraud in foreign labor contracting.
Md. Rafiqul Islam, also a welder, was found guilty of one count of mail fraud and three counts of fraud in foreign labor contracting.
Phan appeared to be holding back tears, while brothers Rahman and Islam remained calm when a court staff read the verdict at 3:47pm. They will be sentenced on March 9, 2018.
U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge John C. Coughenour, who is presiding over the case, allowed the three to remain at liberty pending their sentencing.
Phan’s lawyer, Steven Pixley, expressed disappointment with the verdict, saying they are looking at filing an appeal.
Defense attorneys Robert T. Torres and Bruce Berline, counsel for Rahman and Islam respectively, refused to comment.
Assistant U.S. attorneys Eric O’Malley and James Benedetto prosecuted the case.
In a statement after the verdict, Shawn N. Anderson, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the NMI, said that the CNMI has been plagued by illegal recruitment scams for more than 20 years.
Anderson said the scams are difficult cases to investigate and prosecute.
He said every CW-1 permit approved for a sham employer for a non-existent job represents one less nurse at the Commonwealth Health Center, one less power plant operator for the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., or one less worker for the CNMI economy.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to pursue these cases at every opportunity,” he said.
Anderson said that part of the evidence in the case were bank records obtained from the Bangladesh government via a mutual legal assistance letter, or MLAT—the first NMI district case in which foreign evidence was obtained through the MLAT process.
Anderson said the case against the defendants is
Phan’s fiancée, Analyn Nunez, and Rahman’s wife, Shahinur Akter, were earlier acquitted. Another defendant, Zeaur Rahman Dalu, already pleaded guilty and testified for the U.S. government.
According to the U.S. government, each of the victims paid over $10,000, but when they arrived on Saipan in April of 2016, they were not given work as promised.
The government named five victims, all Bangladeshis, in the case.
Defendant Md. Rafiqul Islam, and unindicted co-conspirators in Bangladesh recruiting the men, collected large fees from them, and deposited them into the bank accounts of defendants’ family members in Bangladesh.
Defendant Rahman coordinated the recruitment and employment of the victims from Saipan.
A necessary part of the scheme required the purported employer, Phan, to mail fraudulent applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to obtain CNMI-only work authorization permits or CW-1.
Phan is president of United Brothers, which operates TBK Auto Cares in Lower Base.
The victims were also “coached” to lie to U.S. Embassy personnel in Dhaka, Bangladesh during their visa interviews. The defendants told the victims not to admit they had paid any fees for their jobs, upon pain of losing all the money they had already paid.
Special agents and task force officers from the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation.
The trial began last Oct. 2.