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Document and Benefit Fraud

Brazilian woman sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for alien smuggling and worker visa fraud conspiracy

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Brazilian woman was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Thursday for her participation in a conspiracy to commit alien smuggling and worker visa fraud.

The case was investigated by the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force, a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents. The task force includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations; U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service; and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fraud Detection and National Security.

Rafaela Dutra Toro, 30, was found guilty of alien smuggling, conspiracy to commit alien smuggling and worker visa fraud by a federal grand jury. Toro will be subject to removal from the United States after she serves her sentence.

For their participation in the conspiracy, co-conspirators Valeria Barbugli, 57, Wilson Barbugli, 63, and Eduardo Barbugli, 31, all Brazilian nationals, were sentenced Oct. 14, 2010 and Dec. 10, 2010. Valeria received a sentence of 24 months imprisonment; Wilson Barbugli was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment; and Eduardo Barbugli was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

According to evidence presented at trial, Toro worked for VR Services, a large temporary labor staffing company based in Orlando, which supplied temporary labor to numerous businesses in the hotel and hospitality industries throughout Florida and the United States. As part of the conspiracy, Toro and her co-conspirators submitted false documentation to the government and manipulated the H-2B foreign worker visa process. They also submitted fake hotel contract agreements to conceal their activities and falsely reported that U.S. workers had been hired when they had not. Further, they falsely claimed that no payments had been collected from the alien workers when, in fact, the workers had actually paid between $350 and $750 each to be placed on the fraudulent H-2B visa petitions.

Through their complex alien smuggling and visa fraud activities, Toro and her co-conspirators supplied foreign workers to more than 100 hotels and allowed more than 1,000 foreign workers to enter and remain in the United States illegally, using fraudulently obtained H-2B employment-based visas. An H-2B visa is granted to certain qualified foreign workers seeking temporary employment in the United States.

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie E. Gorman.