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Federal authorities say two immigration attorneys from Somerset County have been indicted for allegedly making false statements under penalty of perjury in visa applications.

52-year-old Steven G. Thomas and 81-year-old Maria Thomas, both of Montgomery Township, were indicted for conspiring to prepare and file false visa applications on behalf of clients. Steven Thomas was also charged with one count of filing a false visa application, according to U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger.

From 2015 to 2021, the defendants encouraged their clients to apply for asylum under fraudulent pretenses. They advised their clients regarding the manner in which they were most likely to obtain asylum, knowing that these clients did not legitimately qualify for asylum. The defendants then prepared, or caused to be prepared, fraudulent applications and affidavits on behalf of those clients, which were submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Within the indictment,

For example, STEVEN THOMAS and MARIA THOMAS advised clients to falsely claim that they were persecuted in their home countries when they understood that no such persecution actually took place.

Sellinger says a confidential source also met with Steven Thomas in January 2020 and he filed a visa application containing numerous false statements that April.

The public is reminded that charges are accusations and all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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