San Antonio Woman Indicted for Wire Fraud and Identity Theft
In San Antonio today, a federal grand jury indicted 35-year-old Jessica Rivas Alva in connection with a scheme to defraud undocumented immigrants and their family members out of money by claiming to work on behalf of an attorney announced Acting United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge, James C. Spero.
The indictment charges the San Antonio resident with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. According to court records, in April of 2015, Alva faxed forged letters whereby she fraudulently used the name and state bar number of two former employers, both of whom are San Antonio-based attorneys, to gain access to two immigration detention facilities in Louisiana. While at the South Louisiana Correctional Center in Basile and the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Alva met with detained immigrants and offered to have the attorneys provide legal services for a fee. The immigrants’ families were then instructed to deposit those fees into a bank account that belonged to Alva. Alva was not an attorney and was not actually working for either attorney at the time she made the fraudulent representations. Furthermore, at the time Alva entered the detention facilities, she was enjoined by a Texas state court from entering any immigration facility in the United States unless accompanied by an attorney for whom she worked.
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment upon conviction. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory minimum sentence of two years upon conviction. Both charges have a maximum fine of $250,000.
Last week, federal authorities arrested Alva in Sulphur, Louisiana. She remains in federal custody at this time awaiting transfer to the Western District of Texas.
This case was investigated by agents with HSI and Enforcement and Removal Operations with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Assistant United States Attorneys Tom Moore and Christina Playton are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.
It is important to note that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.