Brazilian Woman Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Alien Smuggling and Worker Visa Fraud Conspiracy
Orlando, Florida - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that U.S. District Chief Judge Anne C. Conway yesterday sentenced Rafaela Dutra Toro (30, Brazil) to 30 months in federal prison and 2 years of supervised release. A federal jury found Toro guilty of alien smuggling, conspiracy to commit alien smuggling and worker visa fraud. Toro is a citizen of Brazil and will be subject to removal from the United States after she serves her sentence. For their participation in the conspiracy, her co-conspirators, Valeria Barbugli (57), Wilson Barbugli (63), and Eduardo Barbugli (31), all Brazilian nationals, were sentenced on October 14, 2010 and December 10, 2010. Valeria Barbugli received a sentence of 24 months imprisonment; Wilson Barbugli was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment; and Eduardo Barbugli was sentenced to a term of 20 months in prison.
According to evidence presented at trial, Toro worked for VR Services, a large temporary labor staffing company based, in Orlando, Florida, which supplied temporary labor to numerous businesses in the hotel and hospitality industries throughout Florida and the United States. As part of the conspiracy, Toro and her co-conspirators submitted false documentation to the government and manipulated the H-2B foreign worker visa process. They also submitted fake hotel contract agreements to conceal their activities and falsely reported that U.S. workers had been hired when they had not. Further, they falsely claimed that no payments had been collected from the alien workers when, in fact, the workers had actually paid between $350 to $750 each to be placed on the fraudulent H-2B visa petitions, which have been illegal since January 2009.
Through their complex visa fraud and alien smuggling activities, Toro and her co-conspirators supplied foreign workers to more than 100 hotels and allowed more than 1,000 foreign workers to enter and remain in the United States illegally, using fraudulently obtained H-2B employment-based visas. An H-2B visa is granted to certain qualified foreign workers seeking temporary employment in the United States.
This case was jointly investigated by the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF), a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents. The task force includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fraud Detection and National Security. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Stephanie E. Gorman.