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Document and Benefit Fraud

Ringleader of immigration benefit fraud scheme pleads guilty

MIAMI - A Sunny Isles, Fla., man, who illegally posed as an immigration consultant and attorney in a scheme to defraud immigrants in obtaining immigration benefits, pleaded guilty on Jan. 29 in U.S. District Court. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted the investigation.

Victor Abreu, 45, entered a guilty plea before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Cooke on a charge of conspiracy to provide false statements to a federal agency. He faces a maximum of five years in prison.

On Oct. 29, 2009, Victor Abreu was indicted along with the following five co-conspirators: Pablo Roldan, 38, Adriana Segundo-Zaldivar, 42, both of Hollywood; Sergio Alfaro, 45, and America Sophia George, 42, both of Miami; and Karina Vazquez, 37, formerly of Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Adriana Segundo Zaldivar, Sergio Gabriel Alfaro and America George already entered guilty pleas.

Pablo Roldan is in federal custody pending trial on charges of conspiracy, false statements, and inducing and encouraging aliens to remain in the United States. Karina Vazquez remains a fugitive.

Pablo Roldan of Argentina, Adriana Segundo-Zaldivar of Mexico and Sergio Alfaro of Argentina were also determined to have violated U.S. immigration laws; they will be placed into deportation proceedings after they serve any criminal sentences that may be awarded.

Segundo-Zaldivar and Alfaro will also be transferred into ICE custody after they complete their criminal sentences.

In May 2007, ICE special agents in Fort Lauderdale began investigating Victor Abreu of Abreu & Associates, based on allegations that he was involved in immigration benefit fraud.

Abreu and his employees were allegedly preparing false boilerplate immigration applications for illegal immigrants, including applications for employment authorization and employment visas.

The defendants were charged with engaging in a scheme through which they solicited payments from illegal immigrants by falsely promising to assist them with immigration matters.

The scheme involved preparing benefit applications for at least 300 individuals from the following countries: Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Venezuela, and Mexico, among other countries. After receiving payments, Abreu and his co-defendants prepared the false immigration documents.

To execute the scheme, Abreu falsely purported to be an immigration attorney and consultant. As a result of the scheme, some of the illegal immigrants obtained legitimate work authorization cards and driver's licenses to which they were not lawfully entitled.

"Filing false applications to illegally obtain immigration benefits puts the security of our communities at risk," said Anthony Mangione, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami. "Immigration benefits like these could be exploited by dangerous criminals to obscure their identities and cover their tracks. ICE will continue to aggressively pursue and criminally charge individuals who would exploit immigrant communities for their own self interests."

Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman said, "Immigration fraud undermines the public's faith in our system, as it provides benefits to those who are willing to break the laws. We will continue to work to make our immigration system free from fraud."

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Lorraine Tashman, Southern District of Florida, is prosecuting this case.