BOSTON — Two men were charged Aug. 14 in federal court in Boston with impersonating federal agents in connection with a scheme to defraud individuals trying to obtain legal resident status in the United States. The arrests are the result of a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).
Francisco Soares, 44, of Foxborough and Paul Stein, 58, of Mashpee, were charged with conspiracy to impersonate a federal officer and falsely impersonating a federal agent.
According to the indictment, from October 2011 until July 2014, Soares posed as an ICE special agent and Stein posed as an FBI employee. The men told individuals who were present in the United States illegally that they could "fix their immigration problems," remove any impediments including evidence of prior immigration arrests, and get them lawful permanent resident status – known as a "green card" – in exchange for as much as $10,500. Stein allegedly fingerprinted the aliens, for a fee of $50-$250, ostensibly to facilitate the process of "cleaning" the aliens' records. The aliens were charged various amounts in incremental payments and the process often extended over a period of months or even years.
"Impersonating a federal agent undermines the confidence people have in their government when information from imposters proves not to be true," said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. "This case identified an illegal scheme to extort victims by preying on the vulnerable, and damaged the immigrant community's view of law enforcement."
"OPR, along with our DHS partners within HSI, will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute predators who hide behind fake identities in order to exploit the weak within our society," said Terence Opiola, special agent in charge of OPR Northeast. Impersonation of a federal agent is a direct attack on the integrity of the U.S. government and will not be tolerated."
The charging statutes provide a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.