Duluth businessman labeled 'fugitive' by feds

ATLANTA -- Federal officials say a Duluth businessman who assisted in a lucrative scheme to harbor aliens has fled the United States and is considered a fugitive.

Hitesh Desai, 47, owner of a Duluth software development and consultant company called "Intelli Infotek," was indicted in January along with two codefendants for their rolls in a scheme to dupe United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, federal officials said Monday.

Desai and his cohorts submitted fraudulent applications to make it appear aliens were eligible for work visas at Intelli Infotek and other businesses through a program that allows high-level managers in oversees companies to legally work in the United States, officials said.

Two of Desai's alleged coconspirators were sentenced in U.S. District Court on Monday.

Immigration attorney Parmesh Dixit, 41 and his paralegal, Punyapriya Patel, 37, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Julie Carnes on conspiracy to harbor aliens in violation of the law charges.

Dixit was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to forfeit $1.2 million after pleading guilty in May.

Evidence showed Dixit assisted about 40 aliens who posed as executives, earning $1 million in the scheme.

"Our immigration pathways are not for sale," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in reaction to the sentencing.

Prosecutors said Patel assisted the investigation with "significant cooperation" and received a more lenient sentence of three years probation. He also pleaded guilty in May and was ordered to forfeit $100,000, officials said.