Texas Man Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Defrauding Immigrants by Claiming He Could Provide Legal Status for Money
Defendant Falsely Claimed to Work for Immigration Service and Could Provide ‘Green Card’
A 50-year old El Paso, Texas man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to three years in prison and three years of supervised release for his scheme to defraud immigrants who he scammed out of more than $400,000, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. ALEJANDRO GURANY, collected thousands of dollars from immigrants across the U.S. after telling them he worked for a government immigration office and could provide the immigrants with legal status for a fee. GURANY was never employed by a federal immigration agency. Law enforcement identified more than 30 victims in Washington and Ohio. GURANY was ordered to pay them $140,550 in restitution.
“This defendant preyed on vulnerable people, exploiting their fear of deportation to line his pockets with their hard-earned wages,” said U.S. Attorney Hayes. “He stole not only their money, but their American dream of education and a better life for themselves and their children.”
According to records in the case, between at least December 2011 and March 2015, GURANY pretended to be an employee of the United States and told immigrants he could get them legal status in the U.S. in exchange for money. GURANY traveled to SeaTac, Washington, and met with immigrants at an airport hotel. GURANY took personal identifying information, including photographs and fingerprints from the immigrants seeking green cards or citizenship. Some of the immigrants paid GURANY thousands of dollars believing he would provide them legal status. When no legal status was provided, the victims were afraid to complain about GURANY, since he had all their personal information and they believed he could get them deported.
Judge Robert S. Lasnik accepted the defendant’s claim that Mexican cartels threatened him and his family, demanding that he pay them money. But added that such a claim does not excuse his conduct. “It was a very insidious and awful crime that Mr. Gurany committed. You cannot justify it by saying ‘I need to protect my family’ and then preying on other families.”
“Unscrupulous immigration practitioners not only exploit the trust of their often-unwitting victims,” said Shawn Fallah, resident agent in charge for ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility, “but by filing fraudulent immigration applications, they create security vulnerabilities and compromise the integrity of our legal immigration system. We will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement counterparts to investigate criminals and imposters who manipulate and exploit the system for their own personal gain and see that they are brought to justice.”
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility (ICE OPR) received information from a detainee in 2013 that GURANY was posing as an immigration official. Law enforcement began a financial investigation that revealed the extent of the fraud. The investigation revealed $412,775 had been paid in cash or funneled into GURANY’s bank accounts from Washington, Colorado, California, Arizona, Wyoming, Oregon, and New Mexico. Knowing of the cash payments, and the approximate dollar figures GURANY demanded, investigators believe the number of victims is likely far more than the 30 they have been able to identify.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Manheim.