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05/25/2010

Texas woman sentenced to 57 months for impersonating immigration officer

HOUSTON - A Texas woman's scheme to solicit thousands of dollars to provide immigration documents while posing as an immigration official was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison Tuesday. The sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Jennifer Martinez, 36, of McAllen, Texas, was sentenced May 25 in the Southern District of Texas to 57 months in federal prison without parole. She was also ordered to pay $236,430 in restitution to individuals victimized by her scheme.

Martinez has been in custody without bond since her November 2009 arrest and will remain in custody pending a transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility where she will serve out her sentence. Upon release, the court has ordered Martinez serve a three-year term of supervised release.

ICE agents initiated the investigation after receiving a complaint alleging misconduct by a Jennifer Martinez who was purportedly an immigration service employee selling immigration documents in Alamo, Texas. ICE agents determined Martinez was not employed by the U.S. government and did not have the authority to assist anyone through the immigration process. Martinez had posed as a federal immigration officer and fraudulently received thousands of dollars from numerous victims between January 2007 and November 2009 for immigration documents that were never delivered.

At her re-arraignment hearing, Martinez admitted to having executed the fraud scheme. She specifically defrauded one victim she met at the Galleria in Houston of $3,000 in May 2009 by representing herself as an immigration officer and promising to provide immigration documents for the victim's husband. The money was wire transferred by the victim from Houston to Martinez in Pharr, Texas.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James McAlister, Southern District of Texas.