Former La Vernia Restaurant Operator and Accomplice Sentenced to Federal Prison in Immigration Document Fraud Scheme
In San Antonio today, 49-year-old Yolanda Hernandez de Arteaga, the former operator of the Los Compadres Restaurant in LaVernia, TX, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for fraudulently benefiting from a financial scheme which targeted individuals seeking legitimate immigration documents announced Acting United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division.
Chief United States District Judge Fred Biery also sentenced Hernandez de Arteaga’s co-defendant—57–year-old Maria de Lourdes Montano-Vicencio, an undocumented alien living in Houston, to 46 months in federal prison for her role in the scheme. In addition to the prison terms, Chief Judge Biery ordered that the defendants pay $144,063 restitution to their victims.
“Hernandez de Arteaga and Montano-Vicencio twice victimized these immigrants. They first stole their money with the promise of legal papers. Then they extorted their silence with the threat of reporting them to immigration authorities,” stated Acting United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr.
According to court records, from October 2010 through December 2012, Hernandez de Arteaga and Montano-Vicencio initiated a series of financial fraud schemes including numerous incidents of wire fraud 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. It was part of the scheme that the defendants did not provide any documents to the undocumented aliens. During the time of the conspiracy, the defendants collected over $100,000 from more than 60 immigrants desperate for legal immigration status documents. When the victim-immigrants became angry because they never received any documents or refunds, the defendants threatened to notify immigration authorities and facilitate the deportation of the immigrants if the victims made trouble. During the scheme, Hernandez de Arteaga wired proceeds from the scheme from LaVernia to Montano-Vicencio in Houston via Western Union or MoneyGram.
In December 2014, Hernandez de Arteaga pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five substantive counts of wire fraud. In February 2013, Montano-Vicencio pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud.
“The defendants preyed on vulnerable victims and exploited them for profit,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, FBI San Antonio. Detecting and bringing to justice those who perpetrate these insidious fraud schemes will always be a top priority for the FBI. ”
This case resulted from an investigation conducted by FBI agents with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Border Patrol and the LaVernia Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Bettina Richardson prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.