U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island
January 28, 2010
Alleged bogus immigration attorney is arraigned on
charges of fraud, impersonating a federal agent
Audeliz Villegas, 44, of Pawtucket, was arraigned today on a federal indictment charging him with defrauding individuals seeking legal representation in immigration matters. The indictment alleges that Villegas falsely posed as an attorney and subsequently pretended to be an Immigration Officer with the Department of Homeland Security. Immigration agents arrested Villegas last month on a federal complaint.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced the five-count indictment, which the grand jury returned on January 20 in U.S. District Court, Providence.
Villegas pleaded not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond, who ordered him detained.
The indictment alleges that Villegas devised a scheme to fraudulently obtain money from individuals seeking legal representation. It alleges that he falsely claimed to be an attorney licensed in New York with expertise in immigration law.
The indictment alleges that, on four occasions in November and December, Villegas solicited individuals in Massachusetts to wire money to him in Rhode Island, and that he created documents purporting to be motions that he had filed with an Immigration Court in Rhode Island.
The indictment further alleges that Villegas, who has several aliases, pretended to be an Immigration Officer with the Department of Homeland Security and falsely threatened individuals with deportation.
The indictment charges Villegas with four counts of wire fraud and one count of impersonating an officer of the United States. It supplants a federal complaint filed in December. An indictment is merely an allegation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. In the event of a conviction, the maximum penalty for wire fraud would be 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for impersonating a federal officer is three years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary E. Rogers is prosecuting the case.