balraj singh “roger” bhatti cast health practitioner’s notes, police reports submitted to immigration board
a b.c. immigration attorney with deep ties to the province’s south asian and political communities has been sentenced to 22 months in prison after pleading guilty to 17 costs together with forgery and the misrepresentation of records.
balraj singh “roger” bhatti, 63, changed into charged in 2020 and accused of colluding with overseas nationals to make fraudulent claims for refugee protection in canada. he turned into suspended through the law society of british columbia at that time.
in announcing the charges, the canada border services organization (cbsa) stated bhatti, based totally in delta, b.c., worked with an interpreter, sofiane dahak, in offences that involved human beings coming from relevant europe and passed off among 2002 and 2014.
the cbsa began investigating bhatti in 2012. bhatti started working towards law in 1983 and branched out to immigration regulation in 1990.
in his motives for sentencing, lately published online, b.c. provincial court docket choose mark jetté wrote that at the time of the offences bhatti changed into one of the busiest lawyers in the decrease mainland representing clients searching for conference refugee reputation.
the court found that bhatti cast notes in the call of his own family medical doctor and others pronouncing customers had been unwell in a bid to adjourn or delay hearings with the immigration and refugee board (irb).
the notes regularly stated that a patron suffered a coronary heart assault, lack of hearing or had kidney stones. the physicians whose letterhead was used for the documents testified in courtroom that they had now not organized them.
the courtroom stated that bhatti “submitted hungarian police reports and/or medical records which he knew to be false, with the aim of inducing the irb to make a finding in favour of his customers.”
bhatti’s lawyers, which includes former b.c. lawyer wellknown wally oppal, asked for a conditional sentence for his or her customer, who had no previous criminal convictions.
a conditional sentence turned into denied by means of jetté due to the “seriousness of those offences,” he wrote.
“the fact that mr. bhatti turned into appearing in his ability as a lawyer at some point of, the effect mr. bhatti’s behavior has had on the integrity of the convention refugee system in this u . s ., and mr. bhatti’s excessive degree of moral blameworthiness call for a sentence of institutional prison.”
the reasons for sentencing include sections that describe the work stress bhatti turned into beneath in representing so many clients.
his legal professionals furnished several letters to the court, which includes one from former mla moe sihota, who is married to bhatti’s spouse’s sister, describing the toll bhatti’s workload and commitment to his customers turned into taking up his fitness.
a clinical and forensic psychologist also supplied evidence that bhatti had excessive despair at the time of the offences, which turned into exacerbated by using his paintings conduct.
“it changed into apparent that mr. bhatti’s busy exercise and work habits had been taking each a bodily and emotional toll,” wrote jetté.
the reasons additionally weigh how a sentence to be served in prison should further undermine bhatti’s health and his responsibilities to his family and community.
recognition ‘broken beyond restore’
bhatti’s father, kesar, turned into president of the khalsa diwan society and instrumental inside the constructing of the sikh temple on ross avenue in vancouver. his wife, debbie parhar, became a special assistant in mike harcourt’s office whilst he changed into b.c. finest. she later became bhatti’s office bookkeeper.
“he is a part of a close-knit indo-canadian community; his recognition inside that network particularly has been damaged, probably beyond repair,” wrote jetté. “his spouse has suffered and could keep to suffer due to his moves.”
jetté also taken into consideration aggravating elements in the sentencing, writing that developing fake medical and police reports, “became a complicated and premeditated route of behavior which persisted over a period of years, and impacted multiple claims.”
in mid-june 2021, dahak entered guilty pleas and obtained a conditional sentence of two years less an afternoon with conditions that covered house arrest for the first 8 months, a curfew for the next eight months and one hundred community work hours. he turned into additionally fined $14,000.
the cbsa stated in 2020 that most of the claimants from bhatti and dahak’s offences have been observed now not to be refugees and were removed from canada.