Woman found guilty in visa fraud scheme appeals court’s decision


A woman who was recently sentenced to an imprisonment term of one month for conspiracy to defraud the United States for her involvement in a CNMI-Only visa scheme, has filed an appeal to reverse the District Court for the NMI’s decision. 

Servillana Soriano, through attorney Mark Hanson, has appealed the recent conviction and sentence imposed by the District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona against her with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

In addition, Hanson has filed a motion for Soriano’s release pending the outcome of the appeal. 

The lawyer claims that his client’s appeal raises substantial questions of law likely to result in reversal or an order for a new trial or a sentence that does not include a term of imprisonment.

According to court documents, Hanson said that his client intends to challenge the admission of her written statement during trial. 

The lawyer explained that the Court is aware of the substantive bases for Soriano’s challenge to the written statement. 

“Ms. Soriano would submit that the written statement admitted against her was contradicted by other evidence of contemporaneous statements of Ms. Soriano that negate the efficacy of the statement as a whole — the patently self-serving statement having been drafted by the Government’s case agent, not actual[ly] made by Ms. Soriano herself,” Hanson said.

Hanson noted that his client also intends to challenge the admission of the unfounded testimony of Senior Immigration Officer Monica Verma at trial. 

The testimony that is being contested was the testimony made regarding the statutory or regulatory prohibition on an employer/petitioner of CW-1 status for a foreign worker in the Commonwealth seeking and obtaining reimbursement from the foreign worker beneficiary for the costs to the employer/petitioner of obtaining that CW-1 status. 

“Soriano submits that without the admission of her written statement there was insufficient evidence from which the jury could reasonably infer that Ms. Soriano became a member of a conspiracy to defraud USCIS knowing of its illegal objective and intending to accomplish it. That patently prejudicial error at trial was only compounded by the unfounded testimony of Ms. Verma and by other evidentiary errors at trial,” Hanson said.

Hanson also argues that the evidence presented clearly demonstrated that his client’s actions were as a result of her misunderstanding of the requirements of the law, not with an intent to defraud. 

“The testimonial and documentary evidence in this case does not suggest beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Soriano knowingly and intentionally became a member of a conspiracy to defraud the United States,” he argues. 

Soriano, 61, was sentenced to a one-month imprisonment last Sept. 9.

Manglona sentenced Soriano to one month in prison for one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States government.

Following her sentence, Soriano will be placed on seven months’ home detention as part of her probation, and three years of supervised release.

Soriano was directed to self-surrender to U.S. Marshals at the Department of Corrections on Oct. 14 at 8am. 

Soriano was found guilty by jury for the charges filed against her last year. 

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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