Rose Sanchez-Cañete is guilty of defrauding immigrants. That was the determination of a Fairfax County, Virginia jury yesterday, at the conclusion of the trial against her.
After evaluating the evidence and hearing testimony at the trial that began on Monday, August 15, the jury recommended that Sanchez-Cañete serve a 2-year prison sentence and pay $5,000 in fines for falsely promising to obtain permanent residency for two undocumented immigrants, when in fact they had no chance of obtaining legal status.
Sanchez-Cañete, 48, also known as Rose Marie Sanchez Canete, is the executive director of the Latino Federation of Tenants Association (LAFEOTA) in Alexandria, which allegedly provided immigration legal services.
According to the newspaper The Washington PostSince 1996, the Virginia State Bar has investigated directors of the organization 10 times for suspected fraud. But all but one complaint was dismissed for lack of evidence and cooperation from witnesses who may have feared retaliation for their illegal status in the country.
"Immigrants lost more than $$5,000 because of the Sanchez-Cañete actions," said Rachel Roberts, an attorney with the Fairfax County District Attorney's Office in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Although this trial has concluded, Roberts says that if more people come forward accusing Sanchez-Cañete of fraud, a new investigation could be opened that could lead to more charges being filed against him. He also assured that his office will continue to investigate and prosecute others who commit fraud against the immigrant community.
Sanchez-Cañete is due back in criminal court on November 18, 2016 for sentencing. The judge could accept the jury's recommended sentence or sentence Sanchez-Cañete to between 1 to 20 years in prison and pay a fine of $$2,500 for each case for which she has been found guilty.
In the meantime, if you or someone you know was a victim of Sanchez-Cañete or someone else associated with LAFEOTA, call attorney Rachel Roberts of the Virginia Commonwealth's Attorney's Office of Fairfax County at 703-246-2776.
If you think you have been the victim of an immigration scam by another immigration consultant or notario, report it to the authorities in the state where you live and to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357.
It is very important that you do not remain silent if you have been victimized by Sanchez-Cañete or any other agency or individuals operating illegally. This is the only way to bring the law down on these individuals and shut down businesses that prey on immigrants.
Sanchez-Cañete's case is a victory in the fight against notarios and immigration consultants who have defrauded immigrants, taking advantage of their vulnerability and need to seek legal status in the United States.