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May 25, 2010

IMPERSONATING AN IMMIGRATION OFFICER TO DEFRAUD PERSONS SEEKING DOCUMENTS LANDS MCALLEN WOMAN IN PRISON

(HOUSTON) – A McAllen, Texas, woman’s scheme to solicit thousands of dollars to provide immigration documents while posing as an immigration official has landed her in federal prison without parole, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Jennifer Martinez, 36, of McAllen, was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison without parole and ordered to pay $236,430 in restitution to numerous persons victimized by her scheme following a hearing today before United States District Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore. Martinez has been in custody without bond since her November 2009 arrest and will remain in custody pending a transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility where she will serve out her sentence. Upon release, the court has ordered Martinez serve a three-year-term of supervised release.

The arrest of Martinez in November 2009 is the result of an 18 month-investigation by special agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which was initiated following the receipt of a complaint alleging misconduct by a Jennifer Martinez who was purportedly an immigration service employee selling immigration documents in Alamo, Texas. Through their investigation, ICE agents determined Martinez was not employed by the United States and did not have the ability to assist anyone through the immigration process, but had nonetheless posed as a federal immigration officer and fraudulently obtained thousands of dollars from a number of victims between January 2007 and November 2009 for immigration documents that were never delivered. None of the contact information provided by Martinez to the victims was viable; however, through business records, investigators confirmed thousands of dollars in money wire transfers to Martinez. 

At her re-arraignment hearing, Martinez admitted to having executed the fraud scheme and to specifically having defrauded one victim whom she met at the Galleria in Houston of $3000 in May 2009 by representing herself as an immigration officer and promising to provide immigration documents for the victim’s husband. The money was wire transferred by the victim from Houston to Martinez in Pharr, Texas.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James McAlister.

 

 

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