WOODSIDE, NY — Filipina business owner Rena Avendula was arrested last Friday, charged with five counts of visa fraud, and was released on a $75,000 bail.
Avendula, founder and president of now-defunct medical staffing agency called Professional Placement and Recruitment Inc. in Woodside, was indicted in a federal grand jury on Monday.
According to the US Department of Justice, between October 2009 and February 2015.
Avendula allegedly created fake nursing jobs to illegally bring in Filipinos to the US via the H-1B visa program.
Avendula and her co-conspirators allegedly placed these Filipinos in positions with manufactured job titles and exaggerated duties to get the visa approval.
The DOJ also alleges that in some cases, Avendula even charged beneficiaries up to $15,000 dollars if petitions were granted.
But some Filipino workers allegedly end up not getting paid what Avendula promised them in their petitions. Plus the prospective employees were responsible for attorneys’ fees and other costs associated with filing the H-1B petitions – which are against US labor laws.
In a phone conversation with Avendula, she said the news about her were exaggerated and fake and deferred BA to her lawyer.
In a phone conversation with her attorney, Samuel Jacobson, he said his client will not make any comments at this time pending litigation.
Avendula is known for her defunct Payag Filipino Restaurant, located just below her medical staffing agency.
If found guilty, the 50-year-old businesswoman could face a statutory maximum of 10 years in jail for the visa fraud, plus another 10 years imprisonment for each person she fraudulently brought into the US, in connection with the visa fraud conspiracy.