A suburban Chicago attorney and a translator were arrested Tuesday for immigration fraud after allegedly falsifying requests for asylum from a dozen foreign nationals, authorities said.
Attorney Robert DeKelaita, 51, of Glenview, and Adam Benjamin, 61, of Skokie, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit immigration and naturalization fraud. DeKelaita was also charged with immigration fraud and suborning perjury.
Both DeKelaita and Benjamin pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court and were released on their own recognizance. Their next court date is Jan. 7.
DeKelaita, who practices law at R.W. DeKelaita & Associates in suburban Morton Grove, refused to comment on the case. A woman answering the telephone at his firm said he is not allowed to discuss the charges.
Federal prosecutors allege the two men falsely claimed clients were seeking asylum because they'd been subjected to religious persecution by Islamic extremists in Iraq.
The indictment alleges DeKelaita and Benjamin submitted false information to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services between 2000 and 2011 in exchange for fees on behalf of clients who were foreign nationals.
They also allegedly coached the clients on how to present false information during asylum interviews.
A person granted asylum may later seek lawful permanent residence in the United States, and eventually given naturalized citizenship.