United States v. Haldar, No. 13-1238 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Haldar, an Indian citizen, came to the U.S. in 1999 and has been a permanent resident since 2006. He founded GVS-Milwaukee, a Hare Krishna religious society and, from 2004 to 2007, GVS sponsored 25 applicants for religious-worker “R-1 visas,” 8 C.F.R. 214.2(r)(1), 17 of which were approved. In 2007 the State Department advised the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that GVS-Milwaukee might be involved in visa fraud. DHS also received a similar anonymous tip and began an investigation that included temple visits, surveillance, searches of Haldar’s luggage on international trips, and interviews with GVS-sponsored visa recipients. In 2010 Haldar was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. under 18 U.S.C. 371. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments (not raised in the district court) that certain statements from the prosecutor and a government witness improperly called into question the validity of his temple and were unfairly prejudicial under Federal Rule of Evidence 403; the prosecutor misrepresented testimony during his closing argument and relied on facts outside the record; and the district court on its own initiative should have instructed the jury not to scrutinize the religious qualifications of the visa recipients.