LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Douglas Colon, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations, and Michael E. Yasofsky, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, announced today’s arrest and indictment of defendants Enrique Santiago, 59, and Jason Santiago, 30, both of Pembroke Pines, Florida, on charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and making false statement in applications for employment based visas.
According to the eleven-count Indictment, Jason Santiago was the Registered Agent and President of Universal Placement Services, Inc., which operated in Broward County and represented to the general public that it was able to obtain employment visas, permanent residence and other immigration benefits for aliens within and outside of the United States.
Enrique Santiago and Jason Santiago, son of Enrique, are charged with submitting fraudulent immigration petitions through Universal Placement Services for alien workers (Form I-140) and fraudulent petitions for non-immigrant workers (Form I-129). The defendants allegedly charged more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) per applicant regardless of the applicants’ eligibility for permanent residence, visas, or whether the applicant had an employer sponsor in the United States.
The defendants are also charged with submitting fraudulent applications for labor certifications (Form ETA-750 and Form ETA-9035) to the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation and to the U.S. Department of Labor. The fraudulent Forms ETA-750s and ETA-9035s materially misrepresented the educational background of the applicants, the employment positions, and falsely claimed that Universal Placement Services was capable of hiring and sustaining the employment of a large number of aliens. The Indictment charges that Universal Placement Services submitted more than 200 fraudulent applications and received more than $2,000,000 from the applicants.
If convicted, the Santiagos each face a maximum term of imprisonment of five (5) years and a $250,000 fine on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud; a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a $250,000 fine on each of the four substantive mail fraud charges; and a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and the greater of a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction on one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition, Enrique Santiago faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a $250,000 fine on each of the five false statement counts.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service. This case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey Kay and Jennifer Keene.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.