Source AP ©

Bogus immigration agent to spend three to six years in prison

An accused of cheating Hispanic immigrants out of $280,000 (208,008 EUR) by posing as a U.S. immigration agent and promising them green cards and other documents was sentenced Wednesday in New York to three to six years in prison.

John Nevarez, 55, was sentenced after state Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin refused to let him withdraw his prior guilty plea. Last month, Nevarez pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny for the immigration fraud.

Nevarez, who worked out of a Harlem basement, used a fake badge and identification to convince immigrants he was a federal agent who could solve their documentation problems, according to police who arrested him in July 2006.

Lt. John Zerillo of the New York Police Department's impersonation unit said Nevarez charged $8,000 (5,943 EUR) a person in exchange for "absolutely nothing." Police suspect Nevarez victimized at least 40 people, bilking immigrants out of possibly $320,000 (237,724 EUR) or more.

Nevarez, a U.S. citizen, also pleaded guilty and received a lesser sentence on an outstanding parking violations case, said his lawyer, Eric Sears. Nevarez will serve that sentence concurrently with the fraud sentence, Sears said.

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