In a grueling seven-hour hearing Friday in Sacramento federal court, three attorneys were sentenced to prison for engineering a scheme that gained scores of immigrants asylum in the United States based on false documents.
Jagprit Singh Sekhon, 39, a partner with his brother in a now-defunct Sacramento firm that specialized in immigration law, was sentenced to nine years.
Jagdip Singh Sekhon, 42, who ran the San Francisco office of Sekhon & Sekhon, was sentenced to five years.
Manjit Kaur Rai, 33, an associate in the firm, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years.
U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. ordered the Sekhons taken into custody. He directed Rai to surrender Oct. 15, giving her time to arrange a move of her 5-year-old son to Canada, where he will live with her parents.
Luciana Harmath, 29, who worked for the firm as a Romanian interpreter, was sentenced in June to four months in prison.
The sentencing of Romanian interpreter Iosif Caza, 43, was not completed and will resume Monday.
All five defendants were found guilty by a jury on June 25, 2009, at the conclusion of a 3 1/2-month trial. . . . .
[U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner] said immigration officials are reviewing hundreds of asylum cases that emanated from the Sekhon firm to determine if they will be reopened. The firm's clients were primarily from India and Romania. It also filed claims on behalf of Fijian and Nepali nationals.
[Post-script: On October 12, 2010, Judge Damrell granted Manjit Rai's motion for release pending appeal.]