Federal authorities say an attorney has been arrested for allegedly making false statements in visa applications.

U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger says 52-year-old Steven G. Thomas of New Hope, PA, who operates a law firm in Somerset County, NJ, has been charged for preparing and filing false visa applications on behalf of clients.

Sellinger's office says,

"Thomas...encouraged clients to apply for asylum under fraudulent pretenses. He advised clients regarding the manner in which they were most likely to obtain asylum, knowing that these clients did not legitimately qualify for asylum. Thomas also prepared, or caused to be prepared on behalf of those clients, fraudulent applications and affidavits, which were submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services."

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Officials say a confidential informant working for law enforcement met with Thomas in January 2020 and he then filed a visa application containing "numerous false statements" on that person's behalf later that year.

Thomas was scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Wednesday.

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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