Former Cleveland woman pleads guilty in immigration fraud

JSSP Court Report

A former Cleveland, North Dakota woman has pleaded guilty to charges involving immigration matters and mail fraud, according to Drew Wrigley, U.S. attorney for the district of North Dakota.

Catherina Knecht, also known as Catherina Rheeder, 43, currently of Williston, North Dakota, pleaded guilty to making false statements, false swearing in an immigration matter and mail fraud before Judge Peter Welte in U.S. District Court in Fargo.

Knecht ran Liberty Immigration & Visas out of her home in Cleveland. The business aided employers seeking to obtain temporary workers under temporary agricultural and nonagricultural visa programs. An investigation found that she had fraudulently secured H-2A status for foreign workers without the knowledge of those employers and made false statements in both applications to the U.S. Department of Labor and in petitions to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. She committed mail fraud by submitting those applications through the mail.

Knecht also placed foreign workers without authorization to work in the United States with employers and required the employers to pay her directly, telling those employers the workers' visa paperwork was in progress.

Sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 12 before Welte.

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