A 24-year-old Lafayette resident was recently charged with four counts of wire fraud and four counts of mail fraud in federal court. He has entered a plea of not guilty to all eight federal charges.
According to prosecutors, the Louisianan allegedly offered to represent people who had been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and then did not provide representation, but instead absconded with their money. The accused's purported services included assistance with obtaining work permits, representation at deportation hearings, and bonding out of detention facilities.
Allegedly, the accused obtained detainees' information, including their alien registration numbers, detention location, and names. He then used this information to mail letters to detainees in Spanish and offered to represent the detainees for a fee. Prosecutors allege his charges for these services ranged from $400 to $10,000, which he requested clients wire to his bank accounts or deliver through MoneyGram or Western Union. In the four counts of mail fraud being prosecuted, the letters at issue were allegedly sent through the U.S. Postal Service to Ohio, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington. Upon receiving the fee, prosecutors allege that the accused stopped communicating with the detainees or their families.
The alleged offers of representation occurred through the accused's limited liability company, which is known as both United Immigration Consulting and National Immigration Services. According to the criminal indictment, the suspect acquired money from at least 40 immigration detainees, or their loved ones, in an amount totaling more than $40,000.
These are serious criminal allegations that the accused will confront in an upcoming trial. By way of his not guilty pleas, the accused has already asserted his innocence, and he will have the opportunity at trial to present his case in full.
Source: The Advocate, "Lafayette man accused of scamming detained immigrants across the country set for May trial," Lanie Lee Cook, March 18, 2016