Thursday, March 12, 2009

Immigration Scam Artist Re-Arrested for Committing More Crimes

Woman Pleaded Guilty but Continued Stealing from Victims

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis, along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced yesterday that a woman who was awaiting sentencing on a scam targeting Hispanic immigrants in San Diego County has been re-arrested for once again committing the same crimes.

Gladys Escobar, 64, was taken into custody yesterday morning and booked into the Century Regional Detention Center in Lynwood, California. In October of 2008, Escobar was charged by the San Diego County District Attorney’s office with three counts of grand theft and pleaded guilty to the charges. She is scheduled to be sentenced on March 26th for the crimes and in the meantime had been free on bond.

"The defendant clearly showed no plans to stop her criminal behavior and no remorse for her victims," said DA Dumanis. "New charges will be filed and a judge will no doubt take the defendant’s repeated disregard for the law into consideration."

Escobar, who operated in North San Diego County, claimed to be a lawyer and would file a bogus application for asylum on behalf of undocumented immigrants. Victims believing Escobar had the legal authority to help them stay in the U.S. paid her thousands of dollars. Instead, Escobar initiated a process with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services which led the victims to inevitable deportation.

"Anyone who thinks they can profit by preying on the immigrant community, especially after they were already arrested, will face the consequences," said Miguel Unzueta, Special Agent-in-Charge for ICE investigations in San Diego. "Our agents are in the community and committed to safeguarding the public from this type of brazen criminal activity that victimizes people seeking help."

Escobar admitted taking approximately $17,000 from her victims and as part of the earlier guilty plea and agreed to pay restitution. The new charges stem from additional victims who fell prey to the exact same scheme perpetrated by Escobar while her case moved through the criminal justice system. An arraignment date in San Diego Superior Court has yet to be set.

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