Three jailed for targeting immigrants in Green Card scam

Three jailed for targeting immigrants in Green Card scam
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson guest speaker at the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA). Feb. 25, 2016.
Photo by Louise Wateridge

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced on Wednesday that three defendants have been sentenced in connection with a scheme in which they stole more than $8,000 from two victims by falsely promising to help them obtain green cards and other government documents.

Thompson said two of the defendants were arrested in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and extradited to Brooklyn in November 2015.

“These defendants preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our community and exploited their desires to achieve the American dream,” Thompson said. “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.

“As DA (District Attorney), I’m committed to stopping such con artists from targeting and ripping off members of our immigrant communities,” he added.

The defendants, Richard Gomez, 44, and Marisol Mercado, 43, were apprehended in Lebanon, Pennsylvania on Oct. 23, 2015 and returned to Brooklyn on Nov. 9, 2015.

Gomez was sentenced on Wednesday to an indeterminate term of one to three years imprisonment following his guilty plea on March 9, 2016 to charges of third-degree grand larceny.

Mercado was sentenced to a conditional discharge following her guilty plea on March 9, 2016 to charges of first-degree attempted criminal impersonation.

Thompson said a third defendant, Francisco Mercado, was also sentenced to conditional discharge following his guilty plea, also on March 9, 2016, to charges of second-degree criminal impersonation. All three defendants were sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny K. Chun.

Thompson said that, between June 18, 2015 and Sept. 3, 2015, Gomez falsely claimed to be a New York Police Department (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 license 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, Thompson said.

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

In another instance, Thompson said Marisol Mercado called a victim demanding an additional $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.

Thompson asked that if members of the public believe they have been a victim of Immigrant Fraud to call the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Helpline at 718-250-3333.

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