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Woman charged with stealing $40K from immigrants.

Byline: Adina Genn

A Cedarhurst woman has been charged with stealing nearly $40,000 from at least three people who sought her assistance with their immigration status, authorities said Thursday.

Marie Lisa Smith also known as Michelle Lewis, Marie Throught, and Michelle Regina Lewis promised clients green cards, citizenship and working papers in exchange for money, but never delivered, according to Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.

Smith also allegedly told the victims she would employ them at her nursing home, though she didn't own such a facility.

Now, Smith faces charges of three counts of third-degree grand larceny, three counts of immigrant assistance services fraud, one count of first degree scheme to defraud and one count of third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

She faces a maximum of 2-1/3 years to seven years in prison and is due back in court Friday, according to the DA.

"This defendant allegedly victimized vulnerable immigrants by stealing thousands of dollars from them with a bogus promise of assistance with citizenship, green cards, and employment," Singas said in a statement.

"Crimes against immigrants are on the rise and our Office of Immigrant Affairs is dedicated to seeking justice for victims regardless of their immigration status," she added.

Officials said Smith met her first victim in April 2015 when she hired him to do work on her home. Smith allegedly told the victim she could assist him with his family's immigration status. The victim paid Smith $28,500, which was allegedly for an immigration lawyer associated with Smith. Smith provided the victim with forged documents, claiming they were from the U.S. Justice Department. She also gave him the name of an attorney who had no knowledge of the victim's case.

The victim introduced Smith that month to another man, whom she said she would sponsor him for citizenship. Smith allegedly promised to employ this man at the nursing home she claimed to own and that he would have working papers within six months. This man paid Smith $3,750, though he never received a green card, immigration documents or nursing home employment.

Smith met a third man in May 2015. He, too, worked at Smith's house, and she allegedly offered him a job at the nursing home she falsely claimed to own. Smith told him he could secure working papers and then after six months he apply for a green card. Smith told him that she had an attorney who specialized in immigration law who would process the papers and application. He paid Smith $6,900 but never received a green card, immigration documents or nursing home employment.

Officials ask those who think they may be a victim of an immigration fraud through Marie Lisa Smith to contact the Nassau County District Attorney's Office at 516-571-3505.

 

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Publication:Long Island Business News
Date:Jun 8, 2018
Words:474
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