Former New York police officer defrauded immigrants

A former NYPD officer duped a group of immigrants, promising that he could get them valid driver's licenses and help them with asylum and withholding of removal applications, bilking them out of nearly $$14,000.

Miguel A. Rodriguez, 53, pleaded guilty to defrauding immigrants seeking driver's licenses and immigration assistance on Tuesday, July 16, in Dutchess County Court in New York.

Rodriguez admitted in court that between October 2010 and August 2012, he charged each immigrant $300 to enter a state lottery in which they could "win" a New York state license. But that lottery did not exist.

He also confessed to charging between $500 to $1,000 for asylum and withholding of removal applications, falsely promising that they would be reviewed by an attorney and filed with the appropriate immigration authorities, without even determining whether the victims were eligible for immigration benefits. Rodriguez admitted that as a result of his fraud, he took $$13,862 from the victims.

Rodriguez committed the fraud while serving as a police officer and serving as a liaison officer to the Latino community in the Village of Wappingers Falls.

As part of his fraudulent scheme, Rodriguez visited churches and religious congregations, posing as a person with great compassion and official connections who could help people in need obtain driver's licenses and other services. But in reality, he had no authority to provide the documents or services he offered.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, Rodriguez is expected to be sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to return the money to the defrauded victims.

Rodriguez's guilty plea is the culmination of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Wappingers Falls Police Department and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

It is very important to keep in mind that no police officer or immigration agent has the authority to get papers for anyone. There is a legal process that must be followed, which is not resolved overnight. If a person tells you that they have an inside connection to expedite a process, that person is lying and could be about to scam you.