• January 17, 2019

Local attorney indicted - Odessa American: Courts

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Local attorney indicted

Malhotra charged on counts of lying to government

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Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2015 7:30 pm

Local personal injury attorney Rahul Malhotra, a Canadian and Indian citizen, has been indicted in federal court on two felony charges of lying to the government about his visa.

CBS 7 News reported from the federal courtroom that Malhotra was charged on two counts of giving false statements.

According to a source close to the case, who requested not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the case, the charges stem from Malhotra’s immigration status.

He was in the country on a TN visa, also known as a NAFTA visa, the source said, and is accused of lying about information used to retain that visa.

A copy of the indictment was not available as of press time.

"The nature of the indictment centers around oral and written statements that were made by Malhotra during and (in) relation to his immigration proceedings," Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Lewis said to CBS 7. "The way in which he came into the country says he cannot own or have substantial control of a business."

The indictment came down Wednesday, Malhotra's attorney Dan Cogdell said to CBS 7.

“It’s been a long battle getting his citizenship,” Cogdell said to CBS 7.

Malhotra was released by Magistrate Judge David Counts on his own recognizance, according to CBS 7. He must appear again Friday to finish the proceeding and bail will be set at $10,000.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the visa allows citizens of Canada and Mexico “to work in the United States in prearranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers.”

Malhotra first shows up in the Odessa American archives as working for the Herrera Law Firm in 2000, when Herrera sold the firm to Israel Guardiola.

The first time the Malhotra Law Firm shows up in OA archives is in 2003.

Malhotra and his wife filed a lawsuit in 2013 against the U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as immigration officials, requesting that their applications to become permanent residents be finalized.

According to the document, the couple filed forms in 2006 but those forms were not finalized as of 2013. Several times between 2006 and 2013, the couple and their attorneys called the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for status updates, only to be told that background checks and additional reviews were still processing.

In 2012, attorneys for the couple were told that background checks were under way and that “an investigator in Midland was ‘watching them, if you know what I mean,’ ” according to the lawsuit.

However, four months after filing the lawsuit, Malhotra’s wife Vinita Sharma Malhotra, who is also an attorney at the Malhotra Law Firm, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. That was granted on March 4, 2014.

Rahul Malhotra graduated with a law degree in 1996 from the University of Houston, according to the Texas State Bar’s website. His practice areas are listed as litigation, personal injury and immigration. Vinita Malhotra graduated in 1998 from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich.

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