Man Arrested on Charges of Wire Fraud, Blackmail, Obtaining Money Under False Pretenses, and Extortion
ST. CROIX, USVI—Miguel A. Esperanza-Vazquez, 59, was arrested today after a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment on Tuesday charging him with two counts of wire fraud, one count of blackmail, one count of obtaining money under false pretenses, and one count of extortion, United States Attorney Ronald W. Sharpe announced. After his arrest, Esperanza-Vazquez was arraigned in District Court before U.S. Magistrate Judge George W. Cannon. He was released on an unsecured bond.
The five-count indictment is the result of months of investigative work by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations. The indictment alleges that Esperanza-Vazquez attempted to extort money from an undocumented immigrant while pretending to be a member of law enforcement.
If convicted of wire fraud, Esperanza-Vazquez faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. If convicted of blackmail, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. If convicted of obtaining money under false pretenses, he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. If convicted of extortion, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
United States Attorney Sharpe reminds the public that an indictment is merely a formal charging document and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Stringer.