A Breveard County, Florida restaurant owner of the Siam Orchid Thai-Japaneses
restaurant in Cocoa Beach is among a goup of people facing federal indictment
alleging they oeprated a scheme to buy fake green cards for 43 illegal
immigrants. The illegal immigrants promised more than $600,00 for the
documents to an undercover agent. Wade Arnold reported for FLORIDA Today
A Department of Homeland Security agent posing as a corrupt official, according
to the indictment, met on a regular basis between December 2011 and October
2012 with the owners of the Thai restaurants in Brevard and Indian River.
Thinking the “corrupt” agent would help them if they paid
a fee of up to $20,000 per green card, the restaurant owner submitted
documents and completed immigration forms for the undocumented foreign
Chatchai Nakornprai, 47, and Boonting Nuampaton, 49, of Melbourne; and
Sataporn Panamwan Na Ayuttaya, 44, and Sarah Tipfun, 59, of Vero Beach.
were charged in the indictment. Florida Division of Corporation records
show Nakornprai is an owner of Siam Orchid Thai and Japanese restaurants
in Melbourne and Cocoa Beach.
Pending charges include conspiracy to commit visa fraud and bribery, with
Tipfun, facing a total of 13 felony charges. The maximum penalty for a
bribery conviction is 15 years in prison with a fine up to $250,000, or
three times the bribe.
According to the Department of Homeland Security Immigrations and Customs
Enforcement, document and benefit fraud can be elements of crimes such
as human trafficking, and when organized among a group of co-conspirators,
it can be a lucrative crime.
Robert Brown, from our office was identified and quoted in the Florida
Today article article as an immigration attorney who has offices in Orlando
and Ohio, and who retired after a 27-year career with what was then called
Immigration and Naturalization Service, said one thing about this case
“It’s fairly common for people to try and buy fake or bogus
documents,” he said. “The unique part is that usually you
don’t have an undercover ICE officer to catch someone in the act
He said agents generally catch fraudulent documents, such as green cards,
driver’s licenses, social security cards or passports, when individuals
try to use them to obtain services.
The federal indictment isays Tipfun promised to pay about $618,000 for
the green cards in several meetings and that other suspects also attended.
It says most of the people seeking green cards via the suspects were current
or former employees, or their friends or family, who traveled from as
far away as California thinking they were meeting with a corrupt federal agent.
In October, the suspects and 25 co-conspirators met with the undercover
DHS agent and a Thai law enforcement officer at Tipfun’s restaurant
in Vero Beach. The indictment says the officers warned the participants
the activity was illegal.
Trial is planned to start in early 2013. Those who attempted to purchased
the green cardsare identified as “co-conspirators” in the
indictment but apparently have not been charged but may be facing removal