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NRI in US poll fray held for scam

Randhawa was arrested for travel scam on the eve of polling for a council seat in California, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2005 02:12 IST

An Indian American candidate has suffered the ignominy of arrest for a $ 50,000 discount travel scam on the eve of polling for a city council seat in California.

The dramatic development had its immediate fall-out — Iqbal ‘Paul’ Randhawa, a Democrat, received a thorough drubbing in Tuesday’s election, garnering just 5.3 per cent of votes for the Fairfield seat. The episode may have cast a shadow on the growing Indian American political aspirations, but other candidates belonging to the community made progress elsewhere in the US. That includes the third time re-election of Upendra Chivukula, a Democratic member of the New Jersey Assembly.

The 52-year-old Randhawa, his wife Gurdev ‘Debbie’ Randhawa, and son Manjinder ’Manny’ Randhawa have all been arrested on charges of grand theft, conspiracy and violating California’s “seller of travel” law.

The family operates M&K Travel Services Inc. in San Francisco, Fairfield and San Jose.

Forty-nine customers, most of them travellers to India, had been duped by the Randhawas between May 2004 and June 2005, prosecutors said. The would-be travellers never got the “discount tickets” sold to them. Nor was their money refunded.

Randhawa’s campaign aide, Chuck Hammond, claimed the case was “a fabrication because we were leading in the polls”.

First Published: Nov 12, 2005 02:12 IST