By Mark Weinraub
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A Chicago doctor and a member of her staff have been charged with falsifying medical documents to help applicants bypass U.S. citizenship tests, prosecutors said on Friday.
Dr. Jasminka Kostic, 59, and Nikki Pozdol, 47, who works in the billing department at Kostic's office, were each charged with one count of knowingly making false statements in a document submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois said.
According to the indictment, Kostic, who maintains a practice on Chicago's North Side, and Pozdol improperly diagnosed citizenship applicants as physically or mentally impaired to the point where they were unable to demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and the English language. That diagnosis allowed applicants to seek a waiver for parts of the citizenship test.
Kostic, who also was charged with one count of attempted unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization, did not respond to a call seeking comment. An attorney was not listed on the indictment.
The charges come amid a fierce debate over immigration as part of the U.S. presidential election, highlighted by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump's campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S. southern border and make Mexico pay for it.
The charges are punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison, prosecutors said. An arraignment date in federal court in Chicago has not been scheduled.
(Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by David Gregorio)