By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, QUEENS, NY, Tues. April 19, 2016: The New York State Appellate Court has upheld the 20111 convictions of a Trinidad-born immigrant family who defrauded 19 Caribbean immigrants out of more than $1.8 million in Queens, NY in an immigration and real estate fraud scam.
The Appellate Division, Second Department, in a recent unanimous decision rejected the Ramsundar family’s argument that the verdicts of guilty against them in 20111 were against the weight of the evidence and that they were denied their constitutional right to present a defense.
The Ramsundars were convicted in 2011 of promising to assist the 19 West Indians immigrants with obtaining “federally seized” properties in Florida and Queens at cheap prices or to assist them in gaining legal immigration status in this country.
They were found guilty on November 2011 of second- and third-degree grand larceny, first- and second-degree money laundering, first-degree criminal impersonation and first degree scheme to defraud following a nearly three-month jury trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth C. Holder. In January 2012, Shane Ramsundar was sentenced to 78 to 235 years in prison and ordered to make $1.8 million in restitution; Gomatee Ramsundar was sentenced to 51 to 153 years in prison and fined a total of $221,090; and their daughter, Shantal Ramsundar, was sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison and fined a total of $182,180. Shane and Gomatee Ramsundar’s prison sentences were each later modified to 10 to 20 years, and Shantal Ramsundar’s sentence was modified to 10 to 20 years in prison.
State Appellate Court late last week determined that the sentences and restitution imposed on the Shane Ramsundar, 56 and his wife Gomatee, 52, both formerly of 120th Street in South Richmond Hill, Queens, NY, were not excessive. But the justices did reduce the sentence from an aggregate term of the Ramsundar’s daughter, Shantal, 29, from 10 to 20 years in prison to an aggregate term of 6 to 18 years while reducing her fine from US$182,180 to $5,000.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, in commenting on the ruling said the Ramsundar family “deviously took advantage of their fellow immigrants who were seeking the American Dream by falsely holding the father out as a federal agent and as a devoutly religious Pandit.”
“The damage caused by the defendants was severe and long lasting – in some instances plundering the life savings of people who placed their trust in them,” he added. “The harm was not only financial but emotional, as well. As such, the Court’s decision is welcome news to the defendants’ many victims.”
According to trial testimony in 2011, the three Ramsundars held Shane out to be a federal agent – complete with a real-looking gun, a badge and false ID card – and a deeply religious Pandit, who could obtain cheap government-seized real estate properties in Florida and the Ozone Park/Richmond Hill/Jamaica areas of Queens. In particular, the two elder Ramsundars claimed that the government allowed their special agents first option to buy the properties seized from tax evaders and drug dealers cheaply prior to their public auction.
Shane Ramsundar then told his victims that he would purchase properties and obtain mortgages for them with his special
government connections and then transfer the deeds over to them and they could live in the residences or re-sell them at great profit. Checks were laundered through eleven different bank accounts – eight belonging to Shantal Ramsundar and three belonging to the family’s race car repair company, Baba Boost Racing, Inc., of Long Island City, of which Shantal Ramsundar was the president and Gomatee Ramsundar was the manager. In total, the Ramsundars received a total of more than $1.5 million from eleven victims.
Furthermore, in carrying out the immigration portion of their scheme, Shane Ramsundar again posed as a federal agent and convinced victims that he could use his insider access to get people green cards, have them removed from deportation lists and even get them off “terrorist watch lists” in exchange for sums of money. Gomatee Ramsundar aided her husband by convincing some of the victims that he could obtain the necessary immigration documents and was present when some of the victims turned over their money. Shantal Ramsundar also aided in the scheme by holding her father out as an FBI agent and by cashing checks and laundering substantial amounts of the proceeds through bank accounts in her name.
In total, the Ramsundars received more than $300,000 from twelve victims, some of whom were victimized in the defendants’ real estate scheme.