A Brevard County restaurant owner is among a group of four people facing federal allegations they purchased fake green cards for 43 illegal immigrants, paying more than $600,000 for the documents to an undercover agent.
Melbourne, FL (Florida Today) -- A Brevard County restaurant owner is among a group of four people
facing federal allegations they purchased fake green cards for 43
illegal immigrants, paying more than $600,000 for the documents to an
According to federal
documents, the owners of Thai restaurants -- who are naturalized citizens
-- in Brevard and Indian River counties met with the Department of
Homeland Security Agent on a near monthly basis between December 2011
and October 2012 to buy fraudulent green cards.
charged in the case are: Sarah Tipfun, 59, and Sataporn Panamwan Na
Ayuttaya, 44, of Vero Beach; and Chatchai Nakornprai, 47, and Boonting
Nuampaton, 49, of Melbourne. Florida Division of Corporation records
show Nakornprai is an owner of Siam Orchid Thai and Japanese restaurants
in Melbourne and Cocoa Beach.
They face charges of
conspiracy to commit visa fraud and bribery, bribery and visa fraud. The
maximum penalty for a bribery conviction is 15 years prison and fine
up to $250,000 or three-times the bribe.
Tipfun first met
with the undercover agent at her Vero Beach restaurant, where she agreed
to pay $20,000 for each fraudulent green card, according to a federal
The document says she promised to pay about
$618,000 for the green cards in several meetings that the other suspects
also attended. The indictment says most of the people seeking green
cards via the suspects were current or former employees or their friends
In October, the suspects and 25 co-conspirators
met with the undercover DHS agent and a Thai law enforcement officer.
The indictment says the officers warned the participants the activity
was illegal, but they accepted the fraudulent cards anyway.
four suspects who appear to have organized and led the operation have
been tentatively scheduled to go to trial in February. Nakornprai posted
the required 10 percent of a $350,000 bond and was released from
custody. Nuampaton has also been released, but the others are being held
in custody in St. Lucie County.