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Document and Benefit Fraud
03/16/2009

Immigration scam artist re-arrested by ICE

Stealing continues as defendant awaits sentencing

SAN DIEGO - A Los Angeles woman who was awaiting sentencing for scamming illegal aliens in San Diego County was arrested again last week for the same crime.

Gladis Escobar, 64, was taken into custody last week by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at her residence in Los Angeles. She was initially arrested in 2007 by ICE after being charged by the San Diego County District Attorney's office with three counts of grand theft. Escobar pleaded guilty to those charges in October 2008, and was free on bond while awaiting her March 26 sentencing.

Escobar, who operated in San Diego and Los Angeles counties, falsely claimed to be a lawyer specializing in immigration services. According to court documents, Escobar filed fraudulent asylum applications with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) on behalf of illegal aliens, who paid thousands of dollars for her services. Using word-of-mouth advertising, Escobar would meet with prospective clients at their homes.

Escobar admitted taking approximately $17,000 from her victims, which, as part of the guilty plea, she is required to return. The new charges stem from information that additional victims were being scammed by Escobar, even while the criminal case against her was pending. So far, seven victims of Escobar's scheme have been identified in San Diego.

"The defendant clearly showed no plans to stop her criminal behavior and no remorse for her victims," said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. "New charges will be filed and a judge will no doubt take the defendant's repeated disregard for the law into consideration."

"Anyone who thinks they can profit by preying on the immigrant community, especially after they were already arrested for the crime, will face the consequences," said Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge for the ICE Office of Investigations in San Diego. "Our agents are committed to safeguarding the public from this type of brazen criminal activity that victimizes people seeking legal assistance."