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Human Rights Violators
02/05/2009

Man who fled accusations of human rights violations sentenced

Jail time for visa fraud, perjury and obstructing immigration proceedings

BOSTON - A Brockton man who faces criminal charges of torture in Cape Verde, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court of making false statements, visa fraud, perjury and obstruction of administrative proceedings after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Carlos de Graca Lopes, age 46, of Cape Verde, was sentenced to three years incarceration by U.S. District Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf on seven counts of visa fraud, one count of false statements, four counts of perjury, and one count of obstruction of administrative proceedings.

In June 2006, Lopes obtained a visa to enter the United States.  He entered the U.S. on a tourist visa.  He subsequently violated the terms of his status here in the U.S. and was put into removal proceedings.  During proceedings, Lopes attempted to gain relief from deportation.  He denied that he was accused of a crime in another country; he testified falsely during proceedings that he had never been arrested, and made other false statements.  These misrepresentations obstructed the immigration removal proceedings. 

In fact, evidence in the case demonstrates that Lopes was accused by Cape Verdean authorities of allegedly committing torture and other criminal violations when he was the warden of a prison in Cape Verde.  Lopes was ordered by a Cape Verdean court not to leave the country, but defied that order, and came to the U.S. in June of 2006.

Today's announcement was made by United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge for ICE's 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.

"As evidenced by today's sentence, the United States can aggressively advocate for the respect of human rights around the world, while at the same time pursue those who would undermine the integrity of our immigration policies by committing perjury to gain and maintain safe harbor in the United States," said United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan.

"It is part of ICE's mission to restore integrity to our nation's immigration system. Fugitives and those accused of human rights violations 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 accusations in their home countries."

Chief Judge Wolf's sentence followed the Government's recommendation of an upward departure from the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Judge Wolf sentenced Lopes to three years' imprisonment to run concurrent on the charges of conviction, to be followed by three years of supervised release, which would be administrative if Lopes is deported or removed from the United States.

The case was investigated by ICE, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security 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.