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Financial Crimes

Colombian national sentenced to 5 years for theft from child welfare program

PORTLAND, Ore. — A 43-year-old Colombian national who was extradited last December to face U.S. charges was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing money meant to fund meals for under-privileged children.

The scheme, uncovered by the Oregon Department of Education, was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.

Gerardo Mosquera was convicted by a federal jury in September of two counts of theft concerning a program receiving federal funds. According to court records, Mosquera's organization, the Portland-based non-profit organization Diversity Initiatives, was paid more than $1.6 million by the Oregon Department of Education to provide meals to children at various sites in the Portland area. State officials noticed that the number of meals claimed by Diversity Initiatives was increasing, while sites served by the organization had decreased. A state audit revealed the organization for at least two years had fraudulently billed the state for approximately 100,000 meals that were never provided.

At sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Marco A. Hernandez found Mosquera's leadership role with Diversity Initiatives, his use of a false Social Security number to open bank accounts, and his obstructive behavior during the state administrative proceedings warranted sentencing enhancements. In addition to his prison sentence, Mosquera was ordered to pay more than $215,000 in restitution and serve three years of supervised release.

Following his prison term, he will be taken into custody by ICE to face immigration enforcement action.

The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon.