Queens pastor sentenced for scamming immigrants

The News Leader

January 26, 2010 7:40:20 PM PST
The pastor of a storefront church is going to jail for scamming more than 100 immigrants by promising to get them U.S. visas and legal status. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown says 57-year-old Gregorio Gonzalez, of Mamaroneck, N.Y., was sentenced Tuesday to two to six years in prison. He pleaded guilty to grand larceny earlier this month.

"Instead of helping these victims who were new to this country and often fearful of authorities he helped himself to their hard-earned cash," Brown said.

Prosecutors say Gonzalez met with the mostly Ecuadorean victims at his Corona church and other Queens locations. They say Gonzalez, his sister and another man collected more than $840,000 in fees for the immigration documents.

The defendant's sister, Maria Gonzalez, 53, of Corona pleaded guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny and received five years' probation.

The other defendant, Gerardo Bello, 22, of Mamaroneck, pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny and received two to six years in prison. He is expected to be deported upon his release.