BALTIMORE, Md. - An Ocean City man will spend the next year and a half behind bars, after apparently committing immigration fraud.
On Wednesday, a judge sentenced 36-year-old Gasim Manafov, to 18 months in prison, followed by a year of supervised release, for conspiring to commit immigration fraud. According to his plea agreement, Manafov helped around 70 people fraudulently apply for asylum benefits. He gave the individuals fake stories, which included their families being hurt or killed because of their political or ethnic affiliations, and documents to prove them.
Manafov helped them prepare for interviews, and attended interviews. He also apparently even referred an applicant to a co-conspirator, who he knew would go along with a marriage for immigration purposes, and told the applicant to go through the Miami office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services instead of Baltimore, because he knew that he was being looked at in the Baltimore Office. He also coached the applicant on how to lie to the officials who were interviewing her.
Manafov apparently received $210,000 from those who were fraudulently applying for asylum benefits.
HSI Ocean City Resident Agent in Charge Francis J. McGarvey said "Benefit fraud poses a severe threat to national security and public safety because it creates a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals, and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the United States under a guise of legitimacy. HSI will work with our partners at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Attorney's Office in an effort to maintain the integrity of the immigration system by vigorously investigating and prosecuting individuals like Gasim Manafov, who try to exploit the asylum process."
Two other conspirators have already pleaded guilty, and were sentenced to one month and three months in prison, each.