10-28-04 -- Anderson, Jean -- Guilty Plea -- News Release
Former Hudson County Deputy Registrar Pleads Guilty for Illegally Transferring Birth Certificates
NEWARK - The former deputy registrar of the Hudson County Office of Vital Statistics pleaded guilty today to conspiring to illegally transfer Hudson County birth certificates, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.
The guilty plea from Jean Anderson, 40, of Jersey City, is the culmination of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Diplomatic Security Service, an agency of the Department of State, into the issuance of fraudulent birth certificates from the Hudson County Office of Vital Statistics (HCOVS).
An individual who paid Anderson and her co-conspirators for the service of creating the false birth records could then go to Office of Vital Statistics to receive a birth certificate.
As part of the investigation, federal agents executed a search warrant of the HCOVS on Feb. 18, 2004, which resulted in the seizure of hundreds of suspect Certificates of Live Birth which falsely indicated that the named individuals were born in Jersey City, when in fact, they were born outside the United States and were in the United States illegally.
Anderson admitted today before U.S. District Judge John C. Lifland that she was approached by an individual she knew as "Raj," who asked her to provide him with false birth certificates from the HCOVS. "Raj" - who is actually Rajendra Bahadur and has previously pleaded guilty - subsequently gave her numerous names, dates of birth and other relevant identifying information that was used to generate fraudulent birth certificates, according to Anderson.
Anderson admitted that she would then place birth certificates for these individuals into the HCOVS files. The birth certificates falsely indicated that the named individuals were born in Jersey City. Anderson admitted that she was paid by "Raj" for her activities.
Judge Lifland scheduled Anderson's sentencing for Feb. 2. She remains free on a $50,000 personal recognizance bond.
"It is deadly serious in this day and age when we have people like Anderson and her co-conspirators making it possible for anyone to present themselves as lawful U.S. citizens when they are not," said Christie. "The possibilities run from the benign to the horrific. Anyone contemplating this sort of crime should consider that the full weight of federal law will be brought upon them."
Two others have pleaded guilty in the scheme to get illegal aliens birth certificates, including, on May 20, Bahadur, 44, of Parsippany. Bahadur admitted that he provided false birth certificates from the HCOVS to Nikhil Goswamy in exchange for money. Bahadur further admitted that he obtained the birth certificates from Jean Anderson, who would incorporate Certificates of Live Birth into the county records to make the birth certificates appear legitimate. Bahadur split the money he received from Goswamy with Anderson.
Bahadur pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transfer false identification documents. Bahadur faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Bahadur is scheduled for sentencing tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. before Judge Lifland.
On July 22, Nikhil Goswamy, 47, of Jersey City, pleaded guilty before Judge Lifland to illegally transferring false identification documents. Goswamy's sentencing is currently scheduled for Nov. 29.
Goswamy admitted that he sold false Hudson County birth certificates to a number of individuals he knew were not born in the United States and were present in the country illegally. Goswamy obtained the birth certificates from Bahadur,. As part of the criminal scheme, Goswamy would either obtain actual birth certificates from Bahadur, with whom he was acquainted on a personal basis, or have the purchasers of the certificates go directly to the HCOVS themselves and obtain a birth certificate.
Every birth in New Jersey is recorded on a form called a Certificate of Live Birth, which is completed in triplicate at the institution where the birth occurs. The original form is sent to the State of New Jersey Office of Vital Statistics located in Trenton. A copy is forwarded to the Vital Statistics office in the municipality where the birth occurred, and another copy is forwarded to the Vital Statistics office in the municipality where the parents reside. Birth records for the New Jersey municipalities of Jersey City and Secaucus are maintained by the HCOVS. To obtain a birth certificate, an HCOVS employee would have to confirm that a Certificate of Live Birth for a particular individual was in the HCOVS records.
As the Deputy Registrar, Anderson ran the daily operations of the HCOVS and had intimate knowledge of the procedures used to issue birth certificates to those born in Hudson County.
In the fraud scheme to obtain false birth certificates, Goswamy, a/k/a "Pranav Kumar," contacted Rajendra Bahadur and provided him with an individual's vital statistics, which included the name, parents' names, and date of birth. Bahadur owned a business in Jersey City which supplied stamps and seals to the HCOVS, and therefore knew Anderson.
Once he obtained the personal information from Goswamy, Bahadur contacted Anderson, who would generate a false Certificate of Live Birth containing the individual's information and falsely indicating their place of birth as Jersey City and incorporate that false Certificate of Live Birth into the HCOVS records. In this way, the individual who purchased this service could go to any window clerk at the HCOVS and obtain a birth certificate, as the clerk would simply verify that a Certificate of Live Birth for that individual was in the HCOVS records.
Federal agents also arrested Iftikhar Ali Bhutta, a Pakistani national who was living in Jersey City. Bhutta purchased from Goswamy false birth certificates for himself and his three foreign-born children. Bhutta and his children utilized the false birth certificates to obtain U.S. passports, which they used to travel internationally. Bhutta also sold birth certificates to others. Bhutta is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 29, with jury selection to begin on Nov. 16, on charges of falsely transferring false identification documents and making false statements on applications for U.S. passports.
Under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, the judge to whom this case is assigned would determine an actual sentence based upon a formula that takes into account the severity and characteristics of the offense, and the defendant's criminal history, if any.
Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Under Sentencing Guidelines, defendants who are given custodial terms must serve nearly all of that time.
Christie credited Special Agents of the FBI in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Joseph Billy, Jr., and Special Agents of the Diplomatic Security Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Sean O'Brien, for their work in developing the case.
The Government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Phillip Kwon and Joyce Malliet, both of whom are in the Special Prosecutions Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.
Daniel Welsh, Esq., Jersey City, for Jean Anderson.