MIAMI – The efforts of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) led to the successful sentencing on August 24, 2015, of Inaldo Chavez of Hialeah, Caridad Baez of Hialeah, and Masiel Puron of Marathon following their pleas of guilty to various immigration fraud charges. The conspiracy’s organizers, Chavez and Baez, were sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment and had their U.S. citizenship revoked and naturalization certificates canceled. Recruiter Puron was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment. The other defendants were sentenced in June following their pleas of guilty to various immigration fraud charges. They received varying sentences. One other individual charged in the indictment remains a fugitive. Several undocumented individuals have been surrendered to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for removal processing.
A USCIS Immigration Officer suspected fraud in some of the “green card” applications associated with this scheme and referred the case to USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Directorate for investigation. FDNS Miami uncovered the conspiracy and worked with ICE agents to bring the case to prosecution.
“USCIS has no tolerance for immigration fraud,” said Linda Swacina, Director for the USCIS Miami District. “Anyone tempted to take advantage of America’s hospitality needs to understand that USCIS is committed to ensuring the integrity of our nation’s immigration system, and along with our law enforcement partners, will prosecute those committing fraud to the fullest extent of the law.” Ms. Swacina commended the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida for their vigorous pursuit of justice in this case.
According to court documents, between May 2011 and February 2014, organizers Chavez and Baez, and recruiters, including Puron, arranged for United States citizens and lawful permanent residents to enter into fraudulent marriages with foreign-born individuals for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States. Chavez, Baez, and Puron charged the individuals a fee to arrange the fraudulent marriages, notarized the fraudulent marriage licenses, completed the necessary immigration paperwork, and prepared the co-conspirators for their interviews with USCIS. The United States citizen and lawful permanent resident co-conspirators also charged the individuals a fee to enter into the fraudulent marriages. These fraudulent marriages took place in the Southern District of Florida. In addition, during the time that they were arranging the fraudulent marriages, Chavez and Baez fraudulently obtained naturalization for themselves by lying about their illegal activities on their naturalization applications and during their naturalization interviews.