Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Keith Barwick, the Special Agent-in-Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Office of Professional Responsibility (“OPR”) Northeast, and Angel M. Melendez, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced that JUAN ANTHONY NIEVES was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel to six years in prison for impersonating a federal immigration official to defraud victims in New York and Connecticut.
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Juan Nieves exploited vulnerable immigrants working toward U.S. citizenship by posing as a federal immigration officer, charging his victims fraudulent fees while providing no assistance. Nieves not only defrauded his victims of money but also undermined their trust in the immigration system. Today’s significant sentence is a clear message that this outrageous behavior will not be tolerated.”
OPR Special Agent-in-Charge Keith Barwick said: “This case identified an illegal scheme to extort victims—impersonating a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official undermines the confidence people have in their government and in law enforcement. We are committed to aggressively pursue impersonation cases. Having people come forward to report such schemes is crucial to deterring this type of fraud and preventing others from becoming victims.”
HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Angel M. Melendez said: “This law enforcement impersonator demanded thousands of dollars in fees by preying on members of his own community. The imitation of officers is not only illegal, but it also perpetuates a fear and panic within our city. The sentencing of Nieves demonstrates law enforcement’s commitment to locating and prosecuting these criminals so they can face the consequences of their actions.”
According to the Complaint and Information filed in White Plains federal court, as well as statements made in connection with the plea and sentencing proceedings:
NIEVES is not, and never has been, employed by the Department of Homeland Security. But in March 2015 and from November to December 2015, in Orange County, New York, and Hartford County, Connecticut, NIEVES posed as a federal immigration officer capable of providing assistance in the immigration matters of certain victims and their family members. NIEVES claimed that he was a “boss” or “chief” (“jefe” in Spanish) with United States Immigration; that he worked at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan and had numerous employees working for him; and that he signed the final paperwork that permits an individual to enter the United States or orders an individual to be deported.
NIEVES offered to help the victims and their family members with their immigration paperwork and in return demanded and received thousands of dollars in so-called fees. In connection with this purported help, NIEVES received from the victims and their family members legitimate immigration paperwork that they had completed, and he also took photos or made copies of their identification documents. NIEVES also engaged in a charade of purporting to contact, in the victims’ presence, one or more individuals who worked for him at U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to do certain work related to the victims’ applications.
In addition to the prison sentence, NIEVES, 49, of Manhattan, was sentenced to three years of supervised release. Judge Seibel also ordered NIEVES to forfeit $15,080 in ill-gotten gains and to pay $15,080 in restitution.
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Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of OPR and HSI. Mr. Kim also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the Village of Monroe, New York, Police Department for their assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorney Won S. Shin is in charge of the prosecution.