Eleno Quinteros, Jr., the former vice president of operations for two airline mechanic staffing companies, was sentenced in federal court Thursday to 12 months in prison for making false statements in support of legal permanent resident petitions for dozens of the companies’ mechanics.
Quinteros, 46, of Chula Vista, Calif., previously admitted falsely certifying that he had received no payments from the mechanics, when in fact he had demanded and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars of unlawful fees from approximately 85 of them.
The case is the result of a multi-agency probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
According to his plea agreement, Quinteros demanded and collected as much as $567,480 from his foreign labor workers — including attorney fees – in connection with the applications, even though employers are prohibited by law from demanding payment for their fees. Less than half of the money Quinteros collected was paid to immigration attorneys assisting with the applications, while he kept an estimated $372,715 for himself.
“Legal permanent residency in the United States is not a bargaining chip that greedy employers can sell to the highest bidder,” said Adam Braverman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. “This office will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who commit immigration fraud.”