Food to Crime, Indians Surface in National News


Dinesh D’Souza

Dinesh D’Souza

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: With each passing day, it seems that more Indians are surfacing in the national news showing how stitched together in the fabric of this country we are, though not always in a favorable light. In a continuing and occasional series focusing on these newsmakers, here are their latest stories.

Restauranteur Sheel Joshi moved to Houston from Los Angeles after he closed his Surya Indian restaurant there on West 3rd Street after nine years in December 200 and soon after his nearby fast food Indian café Holy Cow. But Joshi has moved to the Bayou City and opened a new Surya restaurant at 700 Durham near Washington and is getting a lot of attention. Born to a Punjabi father and a French mother and raised in Dorset in southwest England, he brings the best of both these world cuisines to his new relaxed, contemporary Indian ambiance place.

Meanwhile, conservative Indian American political commentator, author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, 57, received a full pardon from President Donald Trump on May 31. He was imprisoned on September 23, 2012 to 8 months in a halfway house in San Diego, got five years’ probation and a $30,000 fine for making an illegal campaign contribution to a 2012 US senate campaign. He was born in Mumbai and came to the US as an exchange student at Dartmouth College.

Ramesh Bilwani

Ramesh Bilwani

On the other hand, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, 52, finds himself in trouble with the law. He is the former president and COO of Theranos, a privately held health technology company founded by Elizabeth Holmes and known for its false claims to have devised revolutionary blood tests that used very small amounts of blood. Holmes and Balwani are under indictment by the US Department of Justice for fraud and conspiracy for a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors, and a separate scheme to defraud doctors and patients. Balwani graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and has an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley, Balwani met Elizabeth Holmes, who is 20 years his junior, in her senior year of high school. She then went to Stanford University but dropped out.

Pic 2 SujatSachdeva_IN

Sujata Sachdeva

Out of jail since April 2017 is Sujata “Sue” Sachdeva, 53, of Milwaukee who embezzled $34 million while vice president of finance at Koss Corp., a maker of stereo headphones. She served a little more than six years of her initial 11-year sentence, shortened for good behavior. Sachdeva used the millions she stole over a decade to finance a lavish lifestyle that included limousine rides, fancy vacations and shopping sprees, during which she purchased expensive shoes, designer clothes, antiques and jewelry — much of which was never unpacked or worn.

Ending the notorious gallery is a Chicago-based Indian couple, Kishan Modugumudi, 34, and his wife Chandra, 31, who were arrested in April for allegedly running a high-end prostitution ring in the United States by luring at least five actresses from Tollywood and advertising them for sex at Indian conferences and cultural events across the country. Modugumudi became a player in the Telugu film industry and co-produced several hit films, the Chicago Tribune reported. The couple allegedly charged clients up to $3,000 for each sexual encounter and kept detailed ledgers of the sex acts performed by each girl, including where and how much they collected and threatened the life of one of the actresses and her family if she told law enforcement the truth about what she did while in the country.