FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2011
NEWARK, N.J. – A Kearny, N.J., woman who posed as a government official pleaded guilty today to a 23-count superseding Indictment, admitting that she orchestrated a scheme to defraud dozens of immigrants out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by pretending she could help them become United States citizens, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Rosa Blake, a/k/a “Mafalda,” a/k/a ‘Rosa Vareiro,” 55, pleaded guilty to six counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of impersonation of a government official, and seven counts of money laundering. Blake entered her guilty plea before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in Newark federal court:
From at least May 2004 to April 2009, Blake targeted dozens of victims who required official government action to obtain permanent legal status in the United States. Blake falsely represented to her victims that she worked for federal immigration authorities and promised to provide or expedite approval of their immigration paperwork, including permanent residency documents, or “green cards,” and employment authorization documents.
Blake would often instruct her victims to meet her at her home, where she would take their identification papers and payment for her “services.” Occasionally, Blake would meet her victims wearing what appeared to be official government credentials around her neck. She would sometimes show them official-looking papers with what appeared to be letterhead and insignias of federal immigration authorities, which she would have them sign. Blake would never permit her victims to retain or make copies of the papers. She would then tell her victims that in a matter of several months, they would receive employment authorization documents in the mail, followed by green cards.
Blake did not take any of the promised actions on behalf of her victims, but kept their money for her personal use. She spent thousands of dollars from her scheme on luxury clothing, including multiple fur coats; designer clothing and shoes; and a BMW. She also gambled hundreds of thousands of dollars at Atlantic City casinos.
When victims realized they had not received any documents from Blake, they would often attempt to contact her to check on the status of their applications. Blake threatened them, saying, among other things, that she had the power to have the victims deported at any time, even in the middle of the night, and that she was a dangerous person. She also said that she knew her victims’ personal information, where they lived and who their relatives were; and that they would never see their children again once they were deported. She told victims that because they were illegal immigrants, they could not stop Blake from having them deported, nor report her to any other government authority.
Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, each count of impersonation carries a maximum potential penalty of three years in prison, and each count of money laundering carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison. Additionally, each of the 23 counts to which Blake pleaded guilty carries a maximum $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for October 4, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Office of Professional Responsibility Investigations East, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Steven J Mocsary; ICE Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Peter T. Edge; and IRS – Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Victor W. Lessoff, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Intrater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: Cathy Waldor Esq., Manasquan, N.J.