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Federal agents raid Long Island job training institutes

A federal agent removes a box of evidence from the offices of the Micropower Career Institute on Long Island on Thursday.
Photo Credit: Mike Balsamo

Five top executives of a New York-based job training school – with two locations on Long Island – have been arrested on federal charges that allege they committed visa and financial aid fraud, prosecutors said Thursday.

Authorities charged the executives of the Micropower Career Institute were engaged in a scheme to “fraudulently represent” that their schools were in compliance with federal immigration and financial aid regulations and charge they committed student visa fraud, wire fraud and financial aid fraud. Among those charged Thursday were the school’s president, Suresh “Sam” Hiranandaney, 60, of Dix Hills; his sister, Anita Chabria, 49, of Old Bethpage, who also served as the company’s vice president; another company vice president, Lalit Chabria, 54, of Old Bethpage; and Hiranandaney’s son, Samir Hiranandaney, 27, of Dix Hills, who ran the company’s Hauppauge location, prosecutors said. A high-level employee at the school’s Manhattan campus, Seema Shah, 41, of Hauppauge, was also arrested.

Agents with the US Department of Homeland Security were raiding the offices of the Micropower Career Institute in Mineola on Thursday afternoon. The federal agents were seen removing dozens of boxes, all labeled “evidence,” and loading them into a truck that was parked in front of the company’s location on Willis Avenue. Sources said similar raids occurred at Micropower’s other locations in Manhattan, Queens, New Jersey and Hauppauge.

In court papers, officials charged that the school had falsified records to make it show that foreign students were attending enough classes to continue receiving federal tuition assistance. Authorities also allege the five school administrators who were arrested Thursday morning had helped students obtain visas by claiming they were full time – even though they didn’t attend classes full time.

“As alleged, through their for-profit schools, the defendants defrauded the government and exploited their students. For their personal financial gain, the defendants allegedly made false certifications about the schools’ compliance with visa and financial aid regulations when, in fact, they were not,” said Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

A telephone message seeking comment that left at Micropower’s headquarters in Manhattan on Thursday was not returned. On Friday morning, the doors of the company’s Mineola location were locked. If convicted, Suresh Hiranandaney, Lalit Chabria, Anita Chabria and Seema Shah all face up to 20 years in prison. Samir Hiranandaney faces up to five years behind bars, if convicted of the top charge.

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