by Paul Kennedy
Justin Capell, the former chief operating officer of Global Premier Soccer, the now-defunct youth soccer organization that once served tens of thousands of youth players, was charged and has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud in a wide-ranging conspiracy to import hundreds of youth coaches.
False P-1S Visas. The Department of Justice outlined the scheme in which Capell and others are alleged to have conspired to file fraudulent visa petitions on behalf of at least seven pro soccer teams in order to secure visas for GPS’s coaching staff.
The visa petitions claimed the applicants would be working as scouts or assistant coaches for the pro teams, thereby making them eligible for P-1S visas as essential support personnel, when in reality they would work as youth soccer coaches for GPS and would be making far less than they would if they indeed worked for the pro teams.
Three clubs were mentioned in the information submitted in U.S. District Court in Boston:
-- Syracuse Pro Sports (which played in the Major Arena Soccer League as the Syracuse Silver Knights for four seasons before moving to Utica in 2018);
-- Boston Elite Soccer (which played in the NWSL for five seasons and folded in 2018); and
-- Sky Blue FC (which is an original member of the NWSL).
The Department of Justice alleges the visa petitions contained materially false and misleading information regarding the teams’ purported need for workers, how they would be employed, how much they would be paid and who would
Capell and others are alleged to have submitted fake employment contracts between the pro teams and visa applicants and fabricated coaching licenses from the English FA to include in the visa applications.
The co-conspirators are also accused, in some instances, of instructing the applicants to mislead the U.S. State Department and Citizenship and Immigration Services during visa interviews about their work, referencing work as scouts for another pro club, the MASL's Florida Tropics.
False H-2B Visas. Another visa program for foreign workers is the H-2B visa program, which secures temporary work in fields where there are not enough U.S. citizens to fill the jobs.
Capell and his co-conspirators are alleged to have filed H-2B visa petitions that contained materially false and misleading information about the need, scope, and location of the jobs the H-2B foreign workers would fill, instructing foreign workers to lie about the terms of their employment with GPS during visa interviews with State Department personnel, and employing them in geographic locations other than those authorized by the visas.
GPS collapse. In June 2020, GPS shut down. Its members were advised the decision was made because GPS’s parent company, Legacy Global Sports, was forced into Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court and the COVID-19 pandemic impacted its operations.
The federal investigation included a search and seizure warrant of GPS’s offices in Waltham, Massachusetts, in October 2019. A former GPS employee, Gavin MacPhee, pleaded guilty in 2020 to obstructing justice.
The Boston Glove reported that GPS's creditors -- parents, coaches, staff employees, vendors, and investors -- were owed $30 million with little chance of recovering their money and more than 400 people lost their jobs, including more than 130 in Massachusetts.
Capell, 39, faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
Three co-conspirators were named in the charging document: GPS's chief executive officer, a member of its human resources department and an attorney who specialized in immigration law.