Indian IT professional sentenced to six-month jail for enrolling students in fake US university

indica News Bureau-


US-based NRI software professional Phanideep Karnati was convicted on Wednesday by a US court in Detroit and given six-month jail term for recruiting students to the fake Farmington University, which was set up by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to crackdown on immigration fraud.

He maintained that he was not aware that it was a fake university and went by the university’s website that it was genuine. More than 600 students, mostly from India, were enrolled at the university, which had a website, a backstory and university officials who were actually undercover agents. ICE has arrested about 250 students so far, deporting or removing about 80% of them. 

Judge Gershwin Drain of U.S. District Court in Detroit also said that Phanideep Karnati, 36, was free until he had to report for his prison sentence. He maintained that as Karnati had a clean record, his sentence will not be as long as other convicted in the same fraud. 

Speaking to Karnati ,Judge Drain said, “I’m convinced you were guilty.” But, the judge added of his offense: “It’s serious, but it’s not all that serious. … You have a very clean record, you got a family. … I view you as a little less culpable”  than the other recruiters, who received longer sentences, ranging from 12 to 24 months. 

Karnati arrived legally in the U.S. about 10 years ago with a H1-B visa while the other recruiters were on F-1 student visas that was the basis for their legal status, court records show. His sentencing memo said this is one reason why he should receive a lighter sentence. Unlike the other recruiters charged, Karnati was not sent to jail after the January 2019 indictments because he had legal immigration status. He lived in Kentucky with his family.

Phanideep will be deported to India after serving his jail term.