MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced the arrest of a Cedarhurst woman who allegedly stole nearly $40,000 from at least three victims who were seeking help with their immigration status.
Marie Lisa Smith, a/k/a Michelle Lewis, a/k/a Marie Throught, a/k/a Michelle Regina Lewis, 38, of Cedarhurst, was arraigned today before Judge William Hohauser on:
- Three counts of Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree (a D felony)
- Three counts of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud (an E felony)
- One count of Scheme to Defraud in the 1st Degree (an E felony)
- One count of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 3rd Degree (an A misdemeanor)
Bail was set at $7,500 bond or $5,000 cash and the defendant is due back in court June 8. If convicted of the top charge, Smith faces a maximum of 2-1/3 years to seven years in prison.
“This defendant allegedly victimized vulnerable immigrants by stealing thousands of dollars from them with a bogus promise of assistance with citizenship, green cards, and employment,” DA Singas said. “Crimes against immigrants are on the rise and our Office of Immigrant Affairs is dedicated to seeking justice for victims regardless of their immigration status.”
DA Singas said that Smith allegedly met her first victim in April 2015 when she hired him to do work on her home. Smith allegedly told the victim she could assist him with his family’s immigration status. The victim paid Smith $28,500.00 which was allegedly for an immigration lawyer associated with Smith. Smith provided the victim with forged documents that were purported to be from the US Department of Justice and the name of an attorney who had no knowledge of the victim’s case.
That same month, Smith met another person through her first victim and said she was willing to sponsor the man for citizenship. Smith allegedly promised that she would give him a job at the nursing home she owned and that he would have working papers within six months, even though Smith does not own or operate a nursing home. The second victim paid Smith a total of $3,750.00 and to date has not received a green card or any immigration documents or any nursing home employment.
A third victim met Smith in May 2015. While working at Smith’s house, she allegedly offered him a job at the nursing home she falsely claimed to own. Smith informed the third victim that he could obtain working papers and then after six months he could apply for a green card. Smith told him that she had an attorney who specialized in immigration law and who would process the papers and application. He paid Smith a total of $6,900.00 and to date has not received a green card or any other immigration documents or any nursing home employment.
The charges arise from an investigation initiated by the NCDA Office of Immigrant Affairs.
The investigation is ongoing and anyone who believes they may be a victim of an immigration fraud perpetrated by Marie Lisa Smith is encouraged to contact the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office at 516-571-3505.
Senior Investigative Counsel Vickie Curran of the Financial Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case, with the assistance of NCDA Immigrant Affairs Director Silvia Finkelstein and NCDA Detective Investigator Miguel Bordoy. The defendant is represented by Legal Aid.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.