|By Bob Audette, Brattleboro Reformer,
Vt.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 11, 2008 - BRATTLEBORO -- A man accused of hiring illegal aliens and making false statements to get a bank loan pleaded guilty Thursday and is expected to be sentenced in federal court in February 2009.
According to a press release from the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, Gurdeep Nagra, 39, a citizen of Canada residing in Brattleboro, was the president of the Nanak Hotel Group, which owned and operated the Hampton and Quality Inns on Putney Road.
Nagra was arrested on Oct. 23, 2007, by agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement after ICE received a tip that Nagra had hired illegal immigrants who were living in the hotel.
The illegals were employed by a shell company designed to avoid detection by immigration officials, stated the press release.
In addition, Nagra and his partners applied for a construction loan to build the Hampton Inn. They entered into two contracts for construction, submitting the higher cost contract to the bank but working with a contractor to bring the project in at a lower cost.
The bank required Nagra and his partners to post a $400,000 deposit with the builder but they arranged to have the money shunted back to them through a bank account set up for that purpose. The bank involved did not suffer any monetary losses due to the scam.
Nagra faces up to five years in jail on each count, followed by three years of supervised release. He could also be fined
up to $500,000.
As part of the criminal investigation, ICE arrested Sanderson Pinheiro, a Brazilian living in Vermont, on Feb. 5, 2008. Pinheiro was charged with conspiracy for helping Nagra to employ illegals and for obtaining identification under false pretenses. He pleaded guilty Oct. 6 and was sentenced to eight-months time served.
Bob Audette can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.
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