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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index
    Release No. 10-101

    June 29, 2010

    CUBAN NATIONAL WHO DEFRAUDED OTHER IMMIGRANTS BY POSING AS ATTORNEY SENTENCED TO OVER 5 YEARS IN PRISON

    LOS ANGELES – A Cuban national who assumed the identity of an attorney and charged aliens to represent them in the very immigration court where he had earlier been ordered deported has been sentenced to 61 months in federal prison.

    Raul Ernest Alonso-Prieto, 61, was sentenced yesterday afternoon by United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow, who also ordered Alonso-Prieto to pay $7,300 in restitution to several victims.

    Alonso-Prieto pleaded guilty in December to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. As part of yesterday’s sentencing, prosecutors told Judge Morrow that Alonso-Prieto induced at least 13 “clients” to pay for his purported legal services and that he appeared as attorney of record in immigration proceedings for approximately eight of the victims.

    After being convicted in a fraud case out of the District of Idaho, Alonso-Prieto was put into removal proceedings in Immigration Court, determined to be a Cuban national who had been convicted of identity theft, and ordered removed. After completing his sentence in the Idaho fraud case at a federal prison in Victorville, Alonso-Prieto was transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the San Pedro Processing Center (SPPC). Alonso-Prieto was held at SPPC for 90 days, but he was released because he could not be deported to Cuba due to the United States’ lack of diplomatic relations with Cuba. He was released from SPPC pursuant to an Order of Supervision on December 22, 2006.

    After being released from custody, Alonso-Prieto assumed the name “Kenneth Robert-Murphy Peterson,” a variation on the name of a real California attorney. Using this name and the name of a deceased Florida attorney – Charles Powell, whose name Alonso-Prieto had used in the Idaho identity theft case – Alonso-Prieto invented a fictional Christian charitable legal services organization that he called the Amicus Curaie Foundation. After he was released from the SPPC, Alonso-Prieto approached detainees, or the families of detainees, at the SPPC and, claiming to be “Kenneth Robert-Murphy Peterson” employed by the Amicus Curaie Foundation, offered to represent them for fees as high as $2,500. Alonso-Prieto appeared in person and by telephone on numerous occasions before Immigration Judges at the SPPC, purporting to be attorney Kenneth Robert-Murphy Peterson and purporting to represent various detained clients in deportation and removal proceedings.

    “Defendant’s fraudulent scheme was premeditated and involved careful planning,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing papers. “[Alonso-Prieto] created a false identity and used false business documents to bolster that identity. [Alonso-Prieto] also acted brazenly and without sympathy, by lying directly to his victims and their families when they were particularly vulnerable in that they were detained in immigration custody pending possible deportation, and were desperately in need of legal assistance. He also exploited their need for spiritual guidance and serenity in a difficult time.”

    This case against Alonso-Prieto was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received the assistance of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Detention & Removal Operations. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Investigation, cooperated in the investigation.

     

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    Release No. 10-101

    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index