Judge sentences Rose Sanchez-Cañete for defrauding immigrants in Virginia

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Rose Sanchez-Cañete (Photo: Fairfax County Police in Virginia)

Ten months after a jury found Rose Sanchez-Cañete guilty of defrauding immigrants, the judge in the case finally handed down his sentence.

The delay was due to legal maneuvers by Sanchez-Cañete's defense team, which succeeded in having his sentence postponed five times.

The Judge Michael F. Devine imposed a 24-month jail sentence and a fine of $$5,000 for the two felony charges against Sanchez-Cañete - as recommended by the jury in August last year. But he suspended 17 months of the jail sentence and $$2,500 of the fine.

That means that Sanchez-Cañete will only have to serve 7 months in jail, giving him the possibility of requesting house arrest.

Conditions of the sentence

According to attorney Rachel Roberts of the Virginia State's Attorney's Office for Fairfax County, Judge Devine stipulated that Sanchez-Cañete, also known as Rose Marie Sanchez Canete, will remain on active probation for two years. He ordered as a special condition that she could not practice law or be involved with organizations that serve the same community she was found guilty of defrauding. He also ordered restitution of thousands of dollars to her victims.

Sanchez-Cañete, the longtime executive director of the Latino Federation of Tenants Association (LAFEOTA) in Alexandria, Virginia, who initially faced a total of six criminal charges - four for fraud and two for practicing law without a license - was found guilty of falsely promising two undocumented immigrants permanent residency.

Sanchez-Cañete will appeal the sentence

Judge Devine authorized an appeal bond of $$2,500. This means that Sanchez-Cañete can remain free while he files an appeal of his case with the Virginia Court of Appeals. He can also postpone payment of the fine and restitution until the appeal is completed.

Sanchez-Cañete's sentence is not enough

A jury determined that Sanchez-Cañete was an immigrant fraudster after evaluating the evidence and testimony against her. It also recommended that Sanchez-Cañete serve a 2-year prison sentence and pay $5,000 in fines. Sanchez-Cañete could have been sentenced between 1 to 20 years in prison for each count of which she has been found guilty.

Judge Devine's decision to suspend 17 months of the jail sentence and $2,500 of the fine is unacceptable.

To suspend part of the sentence in this case, against the wishes of the jury and the Fairfax County District Attorney's Office in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is to give short shrift to immigration fraud - not just in Virginia, but across the country.

Sanchez-Cañete's crimes are not minor. They are felonies. And that is how they should be treated. Sentences for these types of cases should be more severe to send a clear and strong message: if you break the law and defraud and defraud immigrants, you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.