FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Three Sentenced For Targeting Immigrants in Green Card Scam
One Impersonated NYPD Officer, Said He Could Get Documents for a Fee
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that three defendants have been sentenced in connection with a scheme in which they stole more than $8,000 from two victims by falsely promising to help them obtain green cards and other government documents. Two of the defendants were arrested in Lebanon, Pennsylvania and extradited to Brooklyn in November 2015.
District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants preyed on some of the most vulnerable members of our community and exploited their desires to achieve the American dream. Equally troubling is that a defendant posed as a New York City police officer to further this scheme to defraud–potentially damaging an often hidden community’s trust in law enforcement. As DA, I’m committed to stopping such con artists from targeting and ripping off members of our immigrant communities.”
The defendants, Richard Gomez, 44, and Marisol Mercado, 43, were apprehended in Lebanon, Pennsylvania on October 23, 2015 and returned to Brooklyn on November 9, 2015.
Defendant Gomez was sentenced today to an indeterminate term of one to three years imprisonment following his guilty plea on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 to charges of third-degree grand larceny. Defendant Mercado was sentenced to a conditional discharge following her guilty plea on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 to charges of first-degree attempted criminal impersonation. A third defendant, Francisco Mercado, was also sentenced to conditional discharge following his guilty plea on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 to charges of second-degree criminal impersonation. All three defendants were sentenced by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny K. Chun.
The District Attorney said that, between June 18, 2015 and September 3, 2015, Gomez falsely claimed to be an NYPD Sergeant named “Sergeant Russo” and with the assistance of Marisol and Francisco Mercado took money from the victims in exchange for Gomez’s assistance with various government documents, including green cards. The defendants also claimed “Sergeant Russo” could get a liquor license for the victims’ restaurant in Bushwick.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, Gomez first approached his victims seeking a donation for the New York City Police Department—to which the victims would give cash. Gomez continued this ruse to convince his victims to hand over money in exchange for his assistance with various applications to government agencies.
In one instance, Gomez secured a $2,100 loan from a victim but upon repayment the check was declined due to insufficient funds.
In another instance, defendant Marisol Mercado called a victim demanding an additional $6,000 to fix an alleged problem with the immigration paperwork for the victim’s husband. Gomez threatened deportation if the victim did not pay.
If you believe you have been a victim of Immigrant Fraud, please call the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Helpline at 718-250-3333.
The investigation was conducted by New York City Police Department Detectives Edward Myles and Carl Locke of the Police Impersonation Investigation Unit, under the supervision of Lieutenant Gerard Hirschfield, and overall supervision of Deputy Commissioner Joseph J. Reznick of the Internal Affairs Bureau.
The District Attorney also thanked Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Neal Navitsky and Detective Sergeant John Hess of the Lebanon Police Department for their cooperation and assistance in the apprehension of the defendants.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jose Interiano of the District Attorney’s Immigrant Fraud Unit, under the supervision of Kin Ng, Chief of the Immigrant Fraud Unit, and Trish McNeill, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the Investigations Division.