Metro Detroit psychologist pleads guilty in scheme to defraud US government

Charges include Visa fraud, false statements and unlawful distribution of controlled substances

Firoza VanHorn. (Facebook)

DETROIT – On Monday, a Metro Detroit psychologist pleaded guilty for her role in a scheme to create fake medical diagnoses to help immigrants fraudulently obtain US citizenships.

The psychologist is 71-year-old Firoza Van Horn of Bloomfield Hills.

According to court records, immigrants seeking to become naturalized US citizens must first successfully demonstrate the ability to read, write and use the English language, and demonstrate a knowledge of the country’s history and government.

Read more: Metro Detroit doctors accused of profiting off fake medical diagnoses to help immigrants obtain citizenship

These requirements, however, can be waived for immigrants who can prove that they are not able to meet the requirements because of physical or mental disabilities.

The Information and plea agreement state that Van Horn and co-defendant Dr. Muhammad Awaisi, 62, of Pontiac helped immigrants fraudulently obtain these waivers, and hence fraudulently obtain US citizenship by diagnosing the them with medical conditions they did not have and documenting diagnostic tests that were never performed.

Van Horn typically received $500 each time she created a fraudulent diagnosis for an immigrant.

According to the plea agreement and records from USCIS, Van Horn assisted more than 1,200 immigrants file requests for such waivers.

Van Horn is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 22 by United States District Judge Arthur Tarnow.

She faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

Co-defendant Awaisi previously pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 23.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Goulding. Agencies involved in the investigation include the FBI, USCIS and CBP.

Muhammad Awaisi, 61, of Pontiac. (WDIV)

About the Author:

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.