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Press Release

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Guilty Plea Of New York State Assemblywoman To Citizenship And Bankruptcy Fraud Schemes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that New York State Assemblywoman GABRIELA ROSA was charged with, and pled guilty to, two federal felony charges arising out of her efforts to obtain United States citizenship through fraud and fraudulently to conceal assets and income from a federal bankruptcy court. ROSA pled guilty in Manhattan federal court before United States District Judge Denise L. Cote to a two-count information (the “Information”) charging her with one count of making false statements to immigration authorities, and one count of making false declarations to a federal bankruptcy court. ROSA pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office that requires her, among other things, to resign from office upon entry of her plea.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Gabriela Rosa’s crimes cut to the heart of her legal qualification to serve the people of the State of New York as a New York State Assemblywoman. She gained the ability to run for that office only as a result of a years-long immigration fraud, and then she compounded her lack of fitness to serve by defrauding a federal bankruptcy court. Now she faces losing her position and prison time for her actions.”

According to the superseding information, the plea agreement, and statements made today in Court:

The Marriage and Naturalization Fraud Scheme

The New York State Constitution states that only United States citizens may serve as members of the New York State Legislature. In November 2012, ROSA was elected to the New York State Legislature as an Assemblywoman for Assembly District 72 in Manhattan, and is currently serving a two-year term in the Assembly.

ROSA is a citizen of the Dominican Republic and had no citizenship status in the United States until 2005. In December 2005, ROSA was naturalized as a United States citizen as a result of a scheme to obtain legal residency and ultimately citizenship through a sham marriage. ROSA paid a United States citizen (“Spouse-1”) approximately $8,000 to enter into a sham marriage with her while she maintained a relationship with another individual who later became her husband (“Spouse-2”). In numerous submissions and statements to immigration authorities made under penalty of perjury between in or about 1996 and in or about 2005, ROSA falsely represented to immigration authorities that she had entered into a bona fide marriage with Spouse-1, and that she had never given false or misleading information to a U.S. immigration official while applying for immigration benefits.

The Bankruptcy Fraud Scheme

In September 2009, ROSA filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy, under Chapter 7 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (the “Petition”). Through the Petition, ROSA sought to liquidate over $30,000 in debt that she had accumulated on, among other things, credit card charges and personal loans. In the Petition, which ROSA signed under penalty of perjury, and in subsequent documents submitted in support of the Petition, which were also signed under penalty of perjury, ROSA knowingly and willfully made several false declarations and statements. Among other things, ROSA fraudulently omitted her ownership of a cooperative apartment in Manhattan (the “Apartment”) from the Petition, which required her to list all real or personal property in which she had any ownership interest. ROSA, who worked at the time as a legislative assistant in the New York State Legislature, also failed to list outside income she earned as a political consultant and income earned by Spouse-2 in the Petition and supporting documents.

In her plea allocution today before Judge Cote, ROSA admitted that she had entered into a sham marriage in an effort to obtain citizenship and had submitted a fraudulent petition to Bankruptcy Court. ROSA also agreed, pursuant to the terms of her plea agreement, to the return of a campaign contribution unlawfully received from a representative of a foreign government.

ROSA, 47, of Manhattan, faces a total statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. ROSA also faces a term of up to three years’ supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. She also must pay restitution and forfeiture arising out of her bankruptcy fraud offenses. The maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Judge Cote set a sentencing date for ROSA of October 3, 2014 at 10am.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard S. Master and Jason Masimore are in charge of the investigation.

Updated May 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 14-190