NORFOLK, Va. – A 28-year-old Williamsburg man plead guilty on Thursday to passport fraud and to making false statements in his application to join the United States military.
Shivan Patel’s charges, and eventual plea of guilt, stem from his lying to U.S. Air Force and Army recruiters about where he had traveled to, and for trying to acquire a new passport in an effort to mislead them about his previous where-a-bouts.
According to federal authorities, Patel also at one point told an undercover agent that he wanted to join a “Muslim army”, carry out jihad and praised terrorist attacks.
Patel’s passport fraud and false statements came after he had come back to the U.S. from China, where he had been teaching English in during the summer of 2016.
Around this time, Patel’s own parents spoke with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and told agents that their son had become “obsessed with Islam,” according to court documents.
Patel was scheduled to return to Virginia in August 2016, but then texted his parents saying he was going to Jordan. Shortly after, officials in Jordan told the FBI they were going to deport Patel. On the same day he boarded a flight back to the US, court documents say Patel told an undercover employee he wanted to commit jihad. While he suggested the jihad may not be violent, he praised other terrorist attacks, according to the criminal affidavit. It’s not clear who the employee was.
Once he landed in the U.S., FBI agents interviewed Patel where he talked about his admiration for ISIS, but also said he “was not sure about some of ISIS’s methods,” according to court documents. He also said after the success of terrorist attacks in Paris and Orlando he “went to the gym and worked out hard,” the court documents say.
Court documents say he also told the agent he hates gay people and said, “I hope you didn’t feel bad for them,” when referring to the Orlando club massacre.
As the investigation continued, FBI agents developed a confidential human source. Patel told the source he wanted to do something “glorious,” but didn’t want to make his parents sad, according to the court documents.
In September 2016, Patel moved back into his parents house in Williamsburg and began applying for jobs with police departments, correctional facilities, probation offices, fire departments, and the military.
While applying to military positions, Patel did not disclose any of his travels.
“After he was asked to show an Army recruiter his passport, which would have revealed his prior travel to the recruiter, he filed an application for a new passport, falsely claiming that he had accidentally thrown his old passport away. Special agents from the FBI recovered that passport, which documented his undisclosed travel, when they arrested him in July 2017,” according to federal authorities.
Patel will be sentenced on June 4, 2018. He faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, but sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.