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60-Year-Old St. Croix Man Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud In Illegal Alien Smuggling Scam


  U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe

CHRISTIANSTED – A 60-year-old St. Croix man pleaded guilty to fraud charges in federal court today in connection with a false scheme to smuggle an illegal alien into the United States.

Authorities said Miguel Esperanza-Vazquez posed as a law enforcement officer in order to extort nearly $15,000 from an undocumented immigrant, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to the plea agreement, on May 12, 2013 Esperanza-Vazquez, caused a money order to be transmitted from Texas to the Virgin Islands as part of an illegal scheme in which the defendant purported to be able to influence an undocumented immigrant’s residency status, U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe said.

Esperanza-Vazquez agreed with the person that he bilked that the total loss was $14,999, Sharpe said.

Esperanza-Vasquez faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Magistrate Judge George Cannon set a sentencing date for June 15, 2016.

The case is the result of months of investigative work by the IRS-Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Stringer.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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