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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Lynwood woman who admitted pocketing at least $75,000 from immigrants by impersonating a New York attorney with a name similar to her own is expected to plead guilty today to a federal fraud charge.
Jessica Godoy Ramos -- who neither attended law school nor passed the Bar exam -- will plead to a single mail fraud count, a felony that carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years behind bars, according to her plea agreement filed in Los Angeles.
Posing as an immigration attorney, Ramos accepted thousands of dollars from dozens of immigrants seeking her services in an attempt to obtain legal status in the United States. In some cases, she filed immigration petitions on behalf of ``clients,'' but in other instances she accepted money and performed no services, falsely telling immigrants their applications had been submitted, according to the document.
In at least one instance, the 37-year-old defendant created counterfeit immigration parole documents which a client was able to use to enter the United States.
Ramos' victims initially believed she was a legitimate immigration attorney, but several became suspicious when Ramos directed them to appear at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices for interviews, even though they had no appointments.
``The crimes alleged in this case victimized dozens of immigrants who were attempting to realize the American dream by paying someone they thought was a lawyer,'' acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown said after Ramos' September arrest.
``This type of scam, which unfortunately targets new immigrants too often, undermines our immigration system and can shatter dreams of obtaining legal status to remain in the United States.''
Federal authorities began investigating Ramos in February after a Homeland Security Investigations fraud task force received a tip about five so- called clients who went to USCIS offices in downtown Los Angeles expecting to pick up their non-existent ``green cards.''
``People who wish to file for benefits with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have a right to proper representation,'' said USCIS Los Angeles District Director Donna Campagnolo.
``This case is a good example of all agencies involved working together to ensure that the integrity of the program is preserved and individuals are able to retain proper representation to aide them through the process.''