LOS ANGELES—Thanks to the investigative efforts of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Eleno Quinteros Jr., the former vice president of operations for two airline mechanicstaffing companies, plead guilty yesterday to charges of making false statements in support of lawful permanent resident petitions for dozens of the companies’ mechanics.
“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has zero tolerance for those who try to fraudulently misuse our country’s lawful immigration system,” said Susan Curda, director of the USCIS Los Angeles District. “We are proud of our role in uncovering this scheme and bringing the perpetrator to justice.”
Quinteros admitted he falsely certified that he had received no payments, when in fact he had demanded and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars of unlawful fees from approximately 85 mechanics.
According to the plea agreement, Quinteros collected as much as $567,480 from employees, even though employers are prohibited by law from demanding payment for their fees. Quinteros used some of the money to pay attorneys assisting with the applications and pocketed the rest.
Quinteros was vice president of two different staffing companies, whose employees performed heavy maintenance on aircraft at a variety of locations nationwide. Quinteros was responsible for recruiting Mexican airline mechanics to work in the United States, and for helping recruits to obtain work visas such as TN or H-2B visas.
According to the indictment, Quinteros first assisted recruits in obtaining work visas to come to the United States. He then agreed to help at least 85 of them pursue a lawful permanent residency in exchange for substantial, unlawful fees. Quinteros instructed many employees to deposit money in his wife’s bank account or provide him with blank money orders to conceal the source of the unlawful funds.
Quinteros pleaded guilty to a single count of making a false claim in support of an immigration application. He admitted in his plea, however, that the underlying scheme involved more than 25 immigration documents.
This case reflects the determination of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take effective action against immigration fraud. Through USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security unit and Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, DHS continues to fulfill its mission to detect and deter immigration fraud by successfully prosecuting those who would seek to unlawfully obtain immigration benefits in the United States.
Quinteros’ sentencing is set for Nov. 6, 2017, before Judge Michael M. Anello.