US Attorney – Father And Son Guilty Of Visa Fraud Scheme

LAWFUEL – 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 that defendants Enrique Santiago, 59, and Jason Santiago, 30, both of Pembroke Pines, Florida, entered guilty pleas before United States District Judge James I. Cohn.

Enrique Santiago, the father of the co-defendant Jason Santiago, pled guilty to Counts 5 and 11of the Indictment, which charged him with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, respectively. He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count. Jason Santiago pled guilty to Count 1 of the Indictment, which charged him with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and to make false statements. He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

According to court documents, 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. The Santiagos were 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) to Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The defendants charged more than $5,000 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 also submitted 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. Universal Placement Services submitted more than 200 fraudulent applications on behalf of aliens and received more than $2,000,000 from the applicants.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service. This case was prosecuted 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

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