Robert Dekelaita cheated the immigration system like “a well-oiled machine,” the feds say.
When he found a client seeking asylum in the United States, typically from Iraq, the suburban attorney would quickly forge that person’s name on an application and pepper the person’s life story with horrific hardships, including kidnappings, bombings and religious persecution — all false. He drew inspiration from news articles he collected.
Then, prosecutors say he would employ a team of co-conspirators to help him forge documents, even allegedly bribing an immigration prosecutor, to usher the applicant through the asylum process. He fancied himself “a Robin Hood of refugees,” they said.
But Robin Hood was an outlaw. And nearly a year after Dekelaita’s own criminal conviction, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly sentenced him to 15 months in prison Wednesday. The judge noted that, even if Dekelaita chose to break the law out of noble intentions, “you have to be willing to pay the price for it.”