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Human Rights Violators
09/16/2008

Man pleads guilty to visa fraud, perjury and obstructing immigration proceedings

BOSTON - A Brockton man was convicted today in U.S. District Court of making false statements, visa fraud, perjury and obstruction of administrative proceedings.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Investigations in Boston, James P. Ennis, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of State - Diplomatic Security Service and Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division, announced today that Carlos de Graca Lopes, age 46, of Cape Verde, pled guilty before U.S. District Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf to seven counts of visa fraud, one count of false statements, four counts of perjury, and one count of obstruction of administrative proceedings.

At today's plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that had the case proceeded to trial the Government's evidence would have proven that Lopes was accused by Cape Verdean authorities of allegedly committing torture and other criminal violations while he was the warden of the largest prison in Cape Verde. Shortly after he appeared before a Cape Verdean court where he had been ordered not to leave the country, in June 2006, Lopes applied for and obtained a non-immigrant visa to enter the United States. In order to obtain the visa, Lopes misrepresented his marital status, that he had no children in the United States, the purpose for his trip, that he had not been previously arrested, and that his trip would not be unlawful. Lopes restated some of these misrepresentations to the State Department's consular officer during a visa interview.

After Lopes arrived in the United States, he took a job in Brockton, was discovered and put into Immigration Removal proceedings before the Immigration Court. During that process, in May 2007, Lopes applied to remain in the United States and filed a form I-589, in which he once again misrepresented his marital status and denied that he had been accused of a crime in another country. In support of that application, Lopes testified falsely before an immigration judge, under oath, that he was married, had not been accused of crime, had never been arrested, and had not been ordered to leave Cape Verde. All of these misrepresentations by Lopes were material to the administrative proceedings in which they were offered. Lopes obstructed those proceedings as a result of his misrepresentations to the Immigration court.

"As evidenced by today's conviction, we will continue to aggressively pursue anyone who lies to gain safe harbor in the United States, thus undermining the integrity of our immigration policies," said United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan.

"It is part of ICE's mission to restore integrity to our nation's immigration system. Fugitives should know they will not be able to escape justice by hiding out in the United States," said Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent-In-Charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Boston. "The United States is not a safe haven for those attempting to flee criminal charges in their home countries."

Chief Judge Wolf scheduled sentencing for December 11, 2008. Lopes faces up to ten years imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $ 250,000 fine for each of counts one through five, seven and eight, and up to five years imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for each of counts six, nine through twelve and fourteen.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Brockton Police Department and the New Bedford Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aloke Chakravarty of Sullivan's Anti-Terrorism and National Security Unit.