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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

AP Wire | 07/07/2004 | Three sentenced to prison in immigration fraud scheme

AP Wire | 07/07/2004 | Three sentenced to prison in immigration fraud scheme
Posted on Wed, Jul. 07, 2004
Three sentenced to prison in immigration fraud scheme
Associated Press

DALLAS - Three East Texans have been sentenced to federal prison for operating an immigration fraud scheme that offered to help Mexican citizens gain immigration benefits.

Maria Elena Garza, 54, of Kemp was sentenced to eight years and a month in prison for conspiring to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and false impersonation of an employee of the United States.

Officials said she posed as a federal immigration official and offered to help Mexican citizens gain immigration benefits.

Officials said Garza solicited clients through a concession stand she ran at a bingo hall in Seven Points, near Cedar Creek Lake.

According to the indictment, Garza had immigrants mail immigration forms and payment to an office leased by her 30-year-old son, Enrique Elizondo of Kemp. The pair would then send fraudulent reply documents, saying the application had been approved and demanding more money. Those payments went to a postal box registered to Garza's 46-year-old sister, Maria Rosalinda V. Bautista of Kemp.

Elizondo was sentenced to three years and a month in prison, while Bautista was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison.

Officials say the trio had been operating their scheme from at least June 2002 to Oct. 1, 2003.

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