FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Two Defendants Indicted For Targeting Immigrants in Green Card Scam
One Allegedly Impersonated NYPD Officer, Said He Could Get Documents for a Fee
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a man and a woman have been named in an eight-count indictment in connection with a scheme in which they allegedly stole more than $8,000 from two victims by falsely promising to help them obtain green cards and other government documents. The defendants were arrested in Pennsylvania last month and extradited to Brooklyn on November 9, 2015.
District Attorney Thompson said, “These defendants are accused of engaging in a pattern of preying on some of the most vulnerable members of our society. It’s particularly troubling that a defendant allegedly even posed as a police officer to carry out this scheme to defraud. 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 today. Defendant Mercado was arraigned yesterday afternoon and Defendant Gomez was arraigned today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny K. Chun on an eight-count indictment in which they are charged with third-degree grand larceny and third-degree attempted grand larceny. Defendant Gomez is additionally charged with three counts of first-degree criminal impersonation, second-degree criminal impersonation, fourth-degree grand larceny and petit larceny.
If convicted on the top count, the defendants face up to seven years in prison. The defendants next court date scheduled for December 16, 2015.
According to the indictment, 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 Mercado allegedly took money from the victims in exchange for Gomez’s assistance with various government documents, including green cards. The defendants also, it is alleged, 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 allegedly 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 allegedly secured a $2,100 loan from a victim but upon repayment the check was declined due to insufficient funds.
The indictment further alleges that 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. It is alleged that 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 is being 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.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.