Two Rhode Island Sisters Sentenced for Immigration Services Scam
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
BOSTON – Two Rhode Island sisters were sentenced today in federal court in Worcester for their roles in an immigration services fraud that netted over $700,000.
Indranis Rocheford, 28, a dual national of the Dominican Republic and St. Kitts living in Woonsocket, RI, and Alba Peña, 26, of Woonsocket, RI, were sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman to 33 months and 35 months in prison, respectively, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $739,850 in restitution. Rocheford will be subject to deportation proceedings after serving her sentence. Following a 15-day trial in February 2017, Peña and Rocheford were convicted of wire fraud.
From 2009 through 2013, Peña, Rocheford, and their mother, Patria Zuniga, operated a fraud scheme that targeted undocumented immigrants seeking to legalize their status. As part of the scheme, Peña, Rocheford, and Zuniga told victims that Zuniga was either a lawyer or employee of U.S. immigration authorities who could help them become lawful permanent residents. They charged the victims between $8,000 and $14,000 for Zuniga’s services. After the victims made the initial payments, Zuniga extorted thousands of dollars more by threatening to have them deported if they refused to pay.
As part of the fraud, Peña and Rocheford recruited clients, assisted in sales pitch presentations, prepared fake immigration paperwork, and took receipt of victim payments, which were initially made in cash and later accepted via bank account deposits, money orders and wire transfers. In total, victims paid Peña, Rocheford, and Zuniga more than $700,000 for fraudulent immigration services.
In June 2016, Zuniga was sentenced to 78 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $713,850 after she pleaded guilty for her role in the scheme.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb; Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations; and Shelly Binkowski, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jordi de Llano and John Capin of Weinreb’s Criminal Division prosecuted the case.
Updated April 28, 2017