DSS Personnel Honored with Public Service Award by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia

F.P. Report

WASHINGTON: Eight personnel with the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) received 2022 Public Service Awards from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) for the investigative work they performed on two important cases. Each year, the EDVA recognizes the law enforcement officials for their service and contribution to various criminal and civil cases investigated and prosecuted in the District.

Special Agent Tai Pham, Investigative Analyst Patricia Muvdi and Program Manager Robert Rosholt were awarded this honor as a result of their work on a multi-year investigation as part of the Document and Benefit Task Force, which falls within Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Pham, Muvdi and Rosholt, in collaboration with ICE and the Department of Labor (DOL), meticulously reviewed hundreds of immigration petitions and other documentary records to identify potential witnesses in a case of conspiracy to make materially false statements to the United States.

As a result of their efforts, Ashish Sawhney of Sterling, Virginia, plead guilty to conspiring to make false statements in connection with his lead role in a large-scale, multiyear conspiracy to defraud the DOL’s highly competitive H-1B visa program, which involves review and approval by the DOL, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Department of State.

As part of the investigation into Sawhney’s actions, DSS agents also interviewed over 50 individuals and flew to India to obtain information from potential witnesses. From the information gathered, the agents concluded that Sawhney, through his India-based employees, obtained approximately 100 non-immigrant H-1B visas for foreign nationals, with applications that listed nonexistent jobs.

On another EDVA case, former Special Agent Gregory Newman, the dedicated investigative agent, and Digital Forensic Analyst Raymond White, Computer Forensic Analyst Gerald Schwerdt, Special Agent Christopher Holmes and Special Agent Brandon Lee were the dedicated filter investigative team behind the conviction of Californian Laura Gallagher, a former Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, and Russian-born Andrey Kalugin.

The DSS team’s work in gathering evidence, identifying potential privilege issues, reviewing extensive communications, and locating witnesses throughout the United States and abroad, was an integral part of the process and led the prosecution to move forward with pressing charges.