The former owner of an immigration consulting business who defrauded more than 150 clients from multiple states has been sentenced to 81 months in federal prison following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Armando Garcia, 60, of
Garcia's co-defendant and business associate, Elizabeth Alcocer, 48, of
"As the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, one of HSI's top enforcement priorities is targeting the criminals and criminal organizations that undermine the integrity of our nation's legal immigration system," said Mike Carney acting special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "The fraud perpetuated by unscrupulous immigration consultants who exploit the system to enrich themselves hurts us all."
According to court documents, Garcia opened his consulting business, California Legal Services, in 2001 in
Garcia and Alcocer did not disclose to their victims they submitted applications on their behalf with false information and fraudulent supporting documentation. The two prepared and filed various immigration applications based on fraudulent documents they created, including counterfeit marriage certificates, birth certificates and tax returns. In other cases, they provided counterfeit government letters to show the victims that their applications were filed and pending normal processing time.
Some of the victims received employment authorization documents from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services based on prima facie eligibility while their applications were being adjudicated by immigration officers. Meanwhile, Garcia and Alcocer continued to defraud the victims by demanding additional payments.