Neronha Says Immigration Fraud Case Should Be Investigated, Kilmartin Has Refused

Monday, January 29, 2018

 

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Former U.S. Attorney Neronha

A GoLocal investigation uncovering a multi-state scheme which targeted undocumented immigrants and charged them for false documents in now receiving attention from Peter Neronha, former U.S. Attorney.

The New York portion of the scheme resulted in a $1.3 million fine, and that entity -- which is registered to operate in RI -- was stripped on its not-for-profit status in NY. 

But, RI’s Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has refused to investigate.

Now, Democratic candidate for Attorney General Neronha tells GoLocal that this case should be reviewed by the Attorney General's office in RI and that as U.S. Attorney he initiated such cases.

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RI AG Kilmartin

While Kilmartin says he will not initiate his own investigation, Neronha takes a different stance.

"It makes sense to connect with New York authorities and compare notes and share information.  In my experience, this is commonplace, at both the federal and state level," said Neronha. 

“Turning back to the facts involved in the matter you reported, it is quite possible that a joint federal/state investigation is appropriate, and that may, in fact, be happening.  In my experience, such joint investigations often lead to very good results, as different agencies bring different strengths to the team, said Neronha.

The GoLocalProv.com investigation found a tie between locally registered non-profit and Carlos Davila, a convicted child molester and manslaughterer from New York who was barred from representing immigrants in 2017 and fined $1.3 million. Now, a leading immigration attorney is claiming fraud by the organization in Rhode Island.

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NY hit scheme with $1.3M fine

Davila and Central Falls' Bienvenido "Alex" Peralta Martinez are listed by the State of Rhode Island as being the President and Vice-President of "A New Beginning for Immigrants' Rights," which a Venezuelan national told GoLocal he paid over $1,000 to help obtain a work permit, only to receive what he said was fraudulent paperwork.

“One of the difficulties in today’s charged immigration environment is the issue of whether the victims of any fraud are undocumented immigrants.  If that is the case, federal involvement may well be problematic, in that the victims may be less inclined to speak with the state/federal investigative team.  That may militate in favor of working such cases only on the state level, given the Rhode Island State Police’s policy that they do not enforce civil federal immigration law.  But there is no question that targeting undocumented immigrants who have committed no crimes while in the United States comes at a cost to law enforcement in terms of such undocumented immigrants reporting criminal misconduct, whether it be fraud or violent crime,” added Neronha.

Federal Case - Jail and Fines

The federal case Neronha pursued as U.S. Attorney saw the perpetrator of the exploitation receive both jail time and significant fines.

Nimon Naphaeng, 35, a native and citizen of Thailand, from Wakefield, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in February of 2017 to federal charges resulting from his running an immigration fraud scheme. The fraud included the filing of false asylum applications on behalf of individuals who did not request nor authorize the applications.

Naphaeng pleaded guilty to seven (7) counts of mail fraud and two (2) counts of visa fraud.

According to court documents, Naphaeng will forfeit $285,789.31 seized from him by law enforcement as part of the investigation. The funds will be applied to any order of restitution to the victims issued by the Court.

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U.S. Department of Justice

Mail fraud is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 20 years in federal prison; a fine of up to $250,000; and term of supervised release of up to 3 years. Visa fraud is punishable by statutory penalties of up to 10 years in federal prison; a fine of up to $250,000; and term of supervised release of up to 3 years, according to a Department of Justice press release.

"The mechanics of any investigation would depend on the circumstances, of course, but my typical practice as United States Attorney, if an alleged witness or victim made a fraud or public corruption complaint directly to the U.S. Attorney’s Office rather than first going to a law enforcement agency (FBI, Rhode Island State Police, etc.) was to connect the alleged victim to the most appropriate law enforcement agency," said Neronha.

"As a prosecutor, it was not our practice to meet directly with alleged victims unrepresented by counsel, and without a detective or federal agent present, because we did not want to become witnesses ourselves and thereby preclude ourselves from prosecuting the case under the applicable ethics and professional responsibility rules.  Occasionally we would meet with an attorney for the alleged victim, without the victim present, to get some background information before referring the matter to the appropriate law enforcement agency," added Neronha.

 

Related Slideshow: Timeline and Corporate Structures of the Effort to Defraud Undocumented Immigrants

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Elorza Nominates Martinez, a Central Falls Resident, to the Human Relations Commission

"Communication from His Honor the Mayor, dated March 3, 2015, Informing the Honorable Members of the City Council that pursuant to Sections 302(b) and 1103 of the Providence Home Rule Charter of 1980, as amended and Public Law, Chapter 45-50, Sections 1 through 31 passed in 1987, he is this day appointing Bienvenido Peralta Martinez of 124 Perry Street, Central Falls, Rhode Island 02863, as a member of the Human Relations Commission for a term to end January 31, 2018, and respectfully submits the same for your approval. (Mr. Martinez fills a vacant position on the Commission, formerly filled by Elvys Ruiz.)"

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Resume Submitted by Elorza Administration of Martinez Contains Inconsistencies

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Bienvenido "Alex" Peralta Martinez Resume

According to the resume that Martinez submitted to the City of Providence, he was both educated at the World Theological University and was a leader of the school which is located at 165 Ridge Street in Providence. 

It is affiliated with a Louisiana-based unaccredited school. He is still listed on the school's website as the contact of the Providence location. See photo of the school presently.

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City Council's Finance Committee Rejects Elorza's Appointment

Apr 9, 2015

Councilwoman Sabina Matos (Right) Leads Effort to Block Martinez

RESULT: DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER: Sabina Matos, Councilwoman Ward 15
SECONDER: Carmen Castillo, Councilwoman Ward 9
AYES: John J. Igliozzi, Sabina Matos, Carmen Castillo
ABSENT: Terrence M. Hassett, Kevin Jackson

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RI Corporation Papers Filed with Secretary of State Directly Link Martinez and Carlos Davila -- The Subject of Investigation in New York

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A New Beginning for Immigrants' Rights - Olneyville, Providence

The location in Rhode Island at 19 Olneyville Square in Providence.

Today, the location is closed.

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See Video of Interview with Martinez Business Partner Davila

SEE VIDEO 

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WNYC News Story in May 2017 -- Davila and RI's Martinez Were Business Associates

"A Bronx businessman authorized by the federal government to represent immigrants in legal proceedings is selling $200 cards on a false promise that they offer protection against deportation, an investigation by WNYC and Telemundo 47 has found. 

The man, Carlos Davila, pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter in 1988 and was convicted of misdemeanor sexual abuse while out on parole in 1996. He served a total of 12 years in prison. The Department of Justice told WNYC Davila's authorization to represent immigrants is now under review, but he is still accredited and allowed to practice." READ MORE HERE

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NY AG Shuts Down Davila

In June 2017, NBC 4 reported, "New York Attorney General Shutters Bronx Non-Profit Selling 'Scam' ID Cards Promising Protection From Deportation" The business shut-down in New York was also being run in Rhode Island by Martinez. SEE VIDEO

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Martinez met with undocumented immigrants, charged them upwards of $1,000 -- and provided them fake papers, according to a leading immigration attorney and one of Martinez's victims.

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One of Martinez's victims was asked for money at multiple meetings and given a series of doctored and fraudulent documents.

The organization sought out individuals who have no legal recourse for fear of deportation.

 
 

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