SAN ANTONIO — A couple living in San Antonio pleaded guilty Thursday to defrauding illegal aliens and their family members out of money by falsely claiming to work on behalf of two San Antonio attorneys.
This guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin, Western District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, and the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Jessica Rivas, 37 and Eric Job Alva, 39, from San Antonio pleaded guilty March 2 before U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez. The couple pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The defendants admitted that between March and May 2015, the couple conspired to collect legal fees from incarcerated illegal aliens and/or their families under false pretenses.
According to the court documents, in April 2015, the Alvas faxed forged letters fraudulently using the name and state bar number of two San Antonio-based attorneys to enable Jessica Alva to gain access to two immigration detention facilities in Louisiana. While at the South Louisiana Correctional Center in Basile, and the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Jessica Alva met with detained aliens and offered to have the attorneys provide legal services for a fee. The aliens’ families were then instructed to deposit those fees into bank accounts that the Alvas controlled. Jessica Alva was not an attorney and was not actually working for either attorney at the time she made the fraudulent representations. Furthermore, at the time Jessica Alva entered the detention facilities, she was enjoined by a Texas state court from entering any immigration facility in the United States unless accompanied by an attorney for whom she worked.
The conspiracy charge to which the Alvas pleaded guilty also alleged that during telephonic immigration hearings before an immigration court, Eric Alva impersonated one of the San Antonio attorneys and claimed to represent the detained alien whose case was before the court.
Both defendants remain on bond pending sentencing scheduled for June 7 before Judge Rodriguez.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Buie, Western District of Texas is prosecuting this case.