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Press Release

Former San Jose Immigration Consultant Sentenced To 18 Months Imprisonment On Fraud And Tax Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN JOSE – Evelyn Sineneng-Smith was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine for encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain, mail fraud, and willfully subscribing to a false tax return, announced Acting United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Acting Special Agent in Charge Andrew Toth; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan Spradlin; and United States Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Rafael Nuñez. The sentence follows Sineneng-Smith’s conviction after a jury trial on the immigration and mail fraud charges and her subsequent guilty plea to the tax return- related charge.

After a 12-day jury trial, Sineneng-Smith, 68, of San Jose, was convicted on July 30, 2013, of two counts of encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for personal financial gain and two counts of mail fraud.  During the trial, evidence showed that Sineneng-Smith operated an immigration consultation business in San Jose from 1990 to 2008.  Through her service, she induced several people to stay in the country illegally by intentionally providing them with dishonest advice.  For example, she advised foreign nationals, many of whom were Filipino citizens who came to the United States on visitors’ visas, to apply for a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor as path towards obtaining lawful permanent residence.  She charged six victims $5,900 each to file such applications all the while knowing that the law had changed and that her clients did not qualify for lawful permanent residence under existing immigration regulations.  According to the testimony of the victims, Sineneng-Smith failed to inform them that they were ineligible to obtain permanent residence.  In addition, Sineneng-Smith encouraged these victims to overstay the time allowed under their tourist visas and work illegally in residential healthcare facilities.

In addition, Sineneng-Smith pleaded guilty on January 12, 2015, to two counts of willfully subscribing to a false tax return, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1).  In her plea agreement, Sineneng-Smith admitted she failed to disclose on her tax returns some of the income she received from her immigration consultation business for the 2002 and 2003 tax years.  The omission of this income materially understated her gross income on the returns.

Sineneng-Smith was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 14, 2010.  She was charged with three counts of encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (B)(i); three counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341; and two counts of willfully subscribing to a false tax return, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1).  One of the immigration charges and one of the mail fraud charges were later dismissed by the government.  

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Ronald M. Whyte, U.S. District Judge.  Judge Whyte also sentenced the defendant to six months home confinement as a special condition of a three year period of supervised release and ordered restitution to the victims and to the IRS.  The defendant will begin serving the sentence on March 16, 2016.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Knight and Philip Guentert are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Elise Etter and Nina Burney.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the United States Department of Labor, Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.

Updated April 19, 2017

Financial Fraud