PARALEGAL AT CONNECTICUT IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM
PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL DOCUMENT FRAUD CHARGE
David B, Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that FERNANDO GONCALVES, 56, a citizen of Brazil who formerly resided in Bethany, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty yesterday before Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford to one count of document fraud.
According to court documents and statements made in court, GONCALVES, a practicing attorney in Brazil, served as the office manager and paralegal at a law practice in Stamford that assisted persons in obtaining immigration benefits, including employment authorization and permanent resident status. GONCALVES’s responsibilities included meeting with potential clients, preparing documents for submission to various state and federal agencies, and collecting monies paid by clients for legal representation by the law firm. In his position as office manager and paralegal, GONCALVES knowingly filed fraudulent employment-based visa applications for foreign nationals.
Specifically, GONCALVES obtained money from foreign nationals by preparing and submitting approximately eight fraudulent I-485 forms (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). GONCALVES was paid more than $7,000 by each foreign national for whom he performed immigration services. Each of the applications submitted on behalf of the eight individuals contained false statements and fraudulent documents in support of the application, including false rental agreements, false affidavits, false employment experience and false letters.
Judge Covello has scheduled sentencing for December 11, 2012, at which time GONCALVES faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
GONVALVES has been detained since his arrest on June 28, 2012, at JFK International Airport, after he returned to the United States from Brazil.
This matter has been investigated by ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Douglas P. Morabito.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS CONTACT:
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE