SANTA ANA, Calif. - The former office manager of a Los Angeles accounting firm has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for attempting to obtain employment visas for more than 100 Filipino aliens whom she falsely claimed were coming to the United States to work for the firm.
Illuminada "Nida" Quenga, 52, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Philippines who once served as an office manager for the accounting firm Simpson and Simpson, was sentenced here yesterday by U.S. District Court Judge James Selna.
Quenga was indicted in August 2007 on five counts of visa fraud following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force in Los Angeles, with substantial assistance provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the U.S. Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General, and the California Employment Development Department.
According to court documents in the case, for three years beginning in January 2000, Quenga signed off on employment visa petitions for 120 Filipino nationals, ostensibly to fill specialty jobs at Simpson and Simpson. Owners of the accounting firm subsequently told investigators none of the positions existed, none of the aliens were ever employed, and Quenga had no authority to petition for alien workers on the company's behalf.
"Quite simply, America's immigration system is not for sale," said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge for the ICE office of investigations in Los Angeles. "ICE is working closely with its federal and state partners to ensure that those who seek to enrich themselves by compromising the integrity of the visa process pay the price for their crimes."
Adjudications officers at USCIS's California Service Center (CSC) first detected improprieties with petitions involving Simpson and Simpson in 2003. The cases were referred to officers with the Center Fraud Detection Operations who reviewed the fraudulent filings, which spanned a two-year period. The Center's officers worked closely with ICE agents to prepare the case for prosecution.
"The United States offers many benefits and opportunities for eligible legal immigrants," said Christina Poulos, director of the California Service Center. "USCIS officers strive to protect our immigration system from those who attempt to abuse it and will continue to work with ICE and other law enforcement agencies to detect and dismantle these fraud schemes."
Also indicted in connection with the scheme was Dory Ocampo, 36, a recruiter at a Los Angeles employment agency known as BRJ Professional Service. According to investigators, Ocampo prepared the fraudulent visa petitions and collected the fees from the prospective alien workers. Ocampo fled the country shortly following her indictment and is believed to be a fugitive in her native Philippines.
During the course of the probe, the women's alien "clients" told agents they paid from $4,000 to $7,000 to receive approved employment visas. The aliens said it was made clear the money was to secure a fraudulent visa enabling them to stay in the United States.
As for the Ocampo and Quenga's "clients," USCIS moved to revoke any visas granted to aliens who were complicit in the scheme and denied those fraudulent visa petitions that had not yet been adjudicated.
Editor's Note: A digital mug shot of the fugitive in this case is available. To obtain a copy, contact ICE public affairs at (949) 360-3096.