Shane Ramsundar, 50, his wife, Gomatee Ramsundar, 46, and their daughter, Shantal Ramsundar, 23, South Richmond Hill, Queens, New York, have been charged with defrauding a total of nineteen members of the borough’s West Indian community out of more than $1.75 million over a nearly six-year period by promising to assist them in obtaining “federally seized” properties in Florida and Queens, New York, at cheap prices or to assist them in gaining legal status in this country. In carrying out their scheme, the family allegedly held the father out as an ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agent on loan to the FBI or JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) and as a devoutly religious Pandit.
The Ramsundars are presently awaiting arraignment in Queens, New York Supreme Court on a 34-count indictment variously charging them with the crimes of first- and second-degree grand larceny, first- and second-degree money laundering, first-degree criminal impersonation, first-degree scheme to defraud and unlawful sale or possession of an air pistol. If convicted, the defendants each face up to 25 years in prison.
According to the charges, 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 governmentally seized real estate properties in Florida and the Ozone Park/Richmond Hill/Jamaica areas of Queens, New York. In particular, the two elder Ramsundars allegedly 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 allegedly 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 allegedly 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, New York, of which Shantal Ramsundar is the president and Gomatee Ramsundar is the manager. In total, the Ramsundars allegedly received a total of more than $1.5 million from ten victims.
It is further alleged that in carrying out the immigration portion of their scheme, Shane Ramsundar again posed as an ICE/FBI 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 allegedly 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 allegedly aided in the scheme by holding her father out as an ICE agent and by cashing checks and laundering substantial amounts of the proceeds through bank accounts in her name. In total, the Ramsundars allegedly received more than $250,000 from twelve victims, some of whom were allegedly victimized in the defendants’ read estate scheme.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that court-authorized search warrants executed at the family’s residence and storage locker resulted in the recovery of contracts and five realistic looking air guns.
District Attorney Brown said that today’s case was initiated when its alleged victims read press reports in August 2009 about the sentencing of Port Authority janitorial worker Nazim (Tony) Hosein who had defrauded five members of the West Indian community by promising to expedite and produce legitimate green cards and other U.S. documents after collecting a total of nearly $100,000 from them. As a result of that unrelated case, the alleged victims in the instant case contacted the Port Authority police with information about Shane Ramsundar, who was arrested in September 2009 on similar charges and has been remanded in lieu of a total of $5 million in bail since that date.
District Attorney Brown said, “Our immigrant community here in Queens can be especially vulnerable to deception and fraud when someone promises to help them navigate the process of obtaining the necessary documents to work and remain in the United States or to get ahead by dealing in real estate. In this particular case, many of their immigrant victims are alleged to have implicitly trusted the defendants who were West Indian like themselves, lived in the community and went to area Hindu temples and local neighborhood hangouts. As a result, these victims are alleged to have put their faith and their finances in the hands of the defendants who, in turn, allegedly betrayed them by ripping them off and turning their American Dream into the American Nightmare. They now face an uncertain future.”
Port Authority Police Superintendent Fedorko said, “Our Port Authority Police Officers did a tremendous job on this investigation. I want to thank them for their excellent work. In addition, the PAPD recognizes the critical support from the Queens District Attorney, as well as District Attorney Brown’s staff.”
The investigation was conducted by Port Authority Police Department Detectives Dewan Maharaj and Curt King, under the supervision of Lieutenant William Hanley and Inspector Anthony Fitzgerald and the overall supervision of Chief George Albin.
Assistant District Attorneys Catherine C. Kane, Chief of the District Attorney’s Airport Investigations Unit, presented the case to the grand jury and is prosecuting the case, along with Assistant District Attorney Brian E. Kohm, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gerard A. Brave, Rackets Bureau Chief, and Mark L. Katz, Deputy Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney of the Investigations Division Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.
It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.