Air Force office investigating Wright State for possible visa fraud

By MAX FILBY | Dayton Daily News, Ohio | Published: October 5, 2017

DAYTON, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is looking into Wright State University for issues related to H-1B visa fraud that may have occurred at the school.

The university’s board of trustees is set to approve a waiver of attorney-client privilege to allow the Air Force office to access an internal audit. The board, which has approved similar waivers several times, will vote on the measure Friday morning, according to board documents and an agenda.

The probe would make the Air Force Office of Special Investigations the fifth agency investigating Wright State for matters related to possible H-1B visa fraud. WSU has already provided the material to the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Ohio Inspector General and the Ohio Auditor.

If WSU trustees approve the waiver, the AFOSI would be granted access to the same set of materials provided to the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations, according to a board document.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations investigates espionage, terrorism, crimes against property, violence against people, larceny, computer hacking, acquisition fraud, drug use and distribution, financial misdeeds, military desertion, corruption of the contracting process and any other activities that could undermine the U.S. Air Force or Department of Defense, according to the office’s website.

“Since this is an open and ongoing fraud investigation at this time, no investigative details are releasable at this time,” Linda Card, chief public affairs officer for AFOSI said via email.

In 2015, a federal investigation came to light of WSU’s potential misuse of the federal H-1B work visa program, which led to four administrators being suspended; two remain on paid leave.

This newspaper revealed that Wright State sponsored 19 foreign workers who came to the U.S. to work at an area information technology staffing company that paid the workers less than what local graduates typically make for similar IT work.

Immigration experts say it’s possible the arrangement violated immigration laws designed to prevent staffing agencies from trafficking in cheap labor from overseas.

In April, WSU trustees asked the university’s attorney to make referrals for further investigations out of “an abundance of caution,” said Doug Fecher, chairman of WSU’s board of trustees. Fecher said that the probe by the AFOSI is just another result of those referrals.

Wright State’s board of trustees were set to meet in executive session in the Wright Brothers Room of the student union on Thursday. The board will meet in public session at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the Nutter Center’s Berry Room.

©2017 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)
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