Fil-Am business woman in NY facing 5 counts of visa fraud
NEW YORK — The United States has filed five counts of visa fraud against businesswoman Rena Beduya Avendula, 50, for allegedly creating “fake job positions” using the H-1B work visa program.
Avendula is the owner and managing executive of Professional Placement & Recruitment, Inc. (PPRI), with offices in Woodside, Queens. PRRI was described in the indictment as a “medical staffing agency that provided nursing staff members to healthcare facilities, including residential nursing facilities located in New York…that provided care to elderly patients.”
If convicted, her assets may be seized.
A quiet moment
Reached by The FilAm, a seemingly overwhelmed Avendula simply said, “I just need a quiet moment muna, sobra angnews.”
Her lawyer, Samuel Jacobson, did not return a call from The FilAm.
Avendula was the proprietor of Payag Filipino restaurant, which closed down in July 2017, a move she called a “wise decision” then. She is also the producer of “I Am Pinoy Proud Ako,” a web-based political program known as an ardent supporter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to court documents filed with the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York, Avendula engaged in a series of “fraudulent schemes” where she would hire regular nurses from the Philippines using the H-1B visa for “specialty occupations.”
One case cited in the indictment states that, “On or about March 22, 2011, Avendula on behalf of PPRl, signed an H-1B petition stating that Beneficiary One, a citizen of the Philippines whose identity is known to the Grand Jury, would work as a Health Education Manager. Avendula signed the petition knowing that Beneficiary One did not have a prospective Health Education Manager position, and knowing that the petition would be denied if Beneficiary One’s position was truthfully identified as an RN.”
Other cases were cited in the indictment for nurses seeking positions as Pharmaceutical Analyst or Clinical Coordinator.
“After the beneficiaries’ petitions were granted and they had lawful status in the United States, the defendant placed the beneficiaries as RNs with various client facilities. The beneficiaries were not paid the wages represented by Avendula in their petitions,” states the indictment.
The document further says that Avendula “required beneficiaries whose Form I-140 petitions were granted to pay her up to $15,000.”
The alleged “fraudulent scheme” occurred between October 2009 and February 2015.
U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York states, “Avendula engineered a fraud scheme for personal profit by creating fake job positions to deceive a government program that allows a limited number of foreign nationals to enter the U.S. temporarily to fill highly specialized positions.”
No arrest warrant was issued against Rena. A trial is expected to last less than six weeks.