Federal Grand Jury Indicts Two Women in Immigration Document Fraud Scheme
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 18, 2013|
In San Antonio today, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging two women with allegedly engaging in an immigration document fraud scheme for financial gain announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez, San Antonio Division.
A six-count indictment charges 48–year-old Yolanda Hernandez de Arteaga, owner/operator of the Los Compadres Restaurant in LaVernia, Texas, and 55–year-old Maria de Lourdes Montano-Vicencio, an undocumented alien living in Houston, Texas, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five substantive counts of wire fraud.
According to the indictment, from October 2010 through December 2012, the defendants initiated a series of wire fraud schemes whereby they would induce vulnerable immigrants in the LaVernia area into giving them money in exchange for securing legal immigration status documents. In the schemes, the defendants claimed to have personal contacts with immigration authorities who could provide each victim with items such as a Social Security card, a resident alien car, and a work permit in about six months' time. During the time of the conspiracy, the defendants allegedly collected over $100,000 from more than 20 immigrants desperate for legal immigration status documents. The indictment states that on at least 22 different dates, Arteaga wired proceeds from the scheme from LaVernia to Montano-Vicencio in Houston via Western Union or MoneyGram.
The indictment further alleges that when the victim-immigrants became angry regarding the lack of documents or refund of funds, the defendants threatened to notify immigration authorities and facilitate the deportation of the immigrants if the victims made trouble.
The defendants face up to 20 years for each charge upon conviction. The federal government is also seeking a $150,000 monetary judgment against the defendants representing the proceeds derived from their alleged scheme.
This indictment resulted from an investigation conducted by the agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the LaVernia Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Bettina Richardson is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.