Published On: Fri, Apr 1st, 2016

Trio sentenced for targeting immigrants in Green Card scam

green-card-scamNEW YORK – Three people, including one who impersonated a police officer, have been sentenced in New York in connection with a scheme in which they stole more than US$8,000 from two victims by falsely promising to help them obtain Green Cards and other government documents.

Richard Gomez, 44, was on Wednesday sentenced to an indeterminate term of one to three years imprisonment, following his guilty plea last week to charges of third-degree grand larceny; Marisol Mercado, 43, was sentenced to a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to first-degree attempted criminal impersonation; and Francisco Mercado was also sentenced to conditional discharge following his guilty plea to charges of second-degree criminal impersonation.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said the three “preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our community and exploited their desires to achieve the American dream”.

“Equally troubling is that a defendant posed as a New York City police officer to further this scheme to defraud–potentially damaging an often hidden community’s trust in law enforcement…I’m committed to stopping such con artists from targeting and ripping off members of our immigrant communities,” he added.

Between June 18, 2015 and September 3, 2015, Gomez falsely claimed to be an NYPD Sergeant named “Sergeant Russo” and with the assistance of Marisol and Francisco Mercado took money from the victims in exchange for Gomez’s assistance with various government documents, including Green Cards. The defendants also claimed “Sergeant Russo” could get a liquor licence for the victims’ restaurant in Bushwick.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, Gomez first approached his victims seeking a donation for the New York City Police Department—to which the victims would give cash. Gomez continued this ruse to convince his victims to hand over money in exchange for his assistance with various applications to government agencies.

In one instance, Gomez secured a US$2,100 loan from a victim but upon repayment, the cheque was declined due to insufficient funds.

In another instance, defendant Marisol Mercado called a victim demanding an additional US$6,000 to fix an alleged problem with the immigration paperwork for the victim’s husband. Gomez threatened deportation if the victim did not pay.

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