EDISON, NJ – Board of Education candidate Nilesh Dasondi issued a statement Friday withdrawing his candidacy due to a past criminal conviction for money laundering dealing with visa fraud.

“I have decided to withdraw as a candidate from the Edison Board of Education election on Nov. 8, after careful consideration and after speaking to my family, close friends and many supporters,” Dasondi said in the statement. “So that the record is clear, when I filed my petition to run for the board, I did so based on a telephone inquiry to a representative of the Criminal History Review Unit of the Department of Education, who advised me that my conviction was not on the statutory list of disqualifying offenses.”

Dasondi, a former member of the township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, pleaded guilty to 2008 charges that he, and six other individuals, were part of a visa fraud scheme to fraudulently obtain H-1B visas and green cards for Indian nationals, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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According to the U.S. Attorney, Dasondi used his company, Sterling System, LLC. (formerly Cygate Software and Consulting,) to petition the government for H-1B visas and green cards to the Indian nationals, claiming they had particular information technology skills and would work for the company once in the country.

Instead of working at the company, the alien workers obtained cash jobs and that money was paid to Dasondi’s company, who would then pay the aliens as if they were on the company’s payroll, the U.S. Attorney said.

Dasondi was sentenced to six months in jail and fined $50,000 in 2011 for his role in the scheme.

“I do not wish there to be any question about my ability to serve, if elected, and have determined to pursue a formal legal ruling from the Commissioner of Education on my eligibility to run in the future, rather than run this time with a legal cloud hanging over the process,” Dasondi said in his statement Friday. “I continue to firmly believe that I am well-qualified to serve on our school board. I still believe my business experience would be a tremendous asset as our school district works to provide a cost-efficient education to our children; and to be the watchdog for the Edison taxpayers’ money and to balance the uncontrolled school board budget and cut-down the wasteful expenses.”

Dasondi said his bid is hampered by “unjustified, unwarranted and negative” media attention and that he promises to continue being an active community leader and “conscientious local businessman.”

The remaining candidates for the three open seats include incumbent Theresa E. Ward along with challengers William Araujo, Richard M. Brescher and Xiaohan “Shannon” Peng.

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