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Posted on: June 14, 2021

Ronkonkoma Woman Charged with Defrauding Undocumented Immigrants Who Sought Assistance

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Defendant allegedly misrepresented herself as an immigration attorney; stole $30,000 from victims  

MINEOLA, N.Y. – The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office announced today the arrest of a Ronkonkoma woman who allegedly misrepresented herself as an immigration attorney to undocumented immigrants seeking assistance with immigration matters and stole more than $30,000 from the victims. The arrest was the result of a joint investigation by NCDA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Fraud Detection and National Security. 

Tania Gonzalez, 44, of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., was arrested on Monday, June 7, 2021, and arraigned Tuesday before Judge Lisa Petrocelli on ten counts of grand larceny in the third degree (a D felony), one count of grand larceny in the fourth degree (an E felony), and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree (an E felony). Gonzalez faces a minimum sentence of two to four years in prison and a maximum sentence of three and a half to seven years in prison. She was released on her own recognizance and is due back in court on August 25. 

“The defendant allegedly deceived hardworking immigrants by promising to help them on their path to obtaining U.S. residency,” Acting DA Joyce Smith said. “Tania Gonzalez has several aliases and we suspect that more people may have allegedly been defrauded by this defendant. We encourage anyone who may have been victimized to contact the NCDA Office of Immigrant Affairs at (516) 571-7756.” 

According to the investigation, between January 1, 2016 and January 31, 2020, Gonzalez allegedly misrepresented herself as an immigration attorney to numerous undocumented immigrants seeking assistance. Gonzalez told victims that if they had been in the country for 10 years, they qualified for a 10-year visa, even if they had entered the country illegally. No such visa exists under Immigration Law. 

Gonzalez allegedly requested a substantial down payment from her victims, and in many cases, filed a fraudulent Application for Asylum (I-589, Application for Asylum and for withholding of Removal) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) without the victims’ knowledge. 

As a result of the asylum applications, USCIS provided employment authorization documents to Gonzalez’s clients pending action by the agency on the original applications. Gonzalez allegedly used the issuance of the employment authorization documents to demonstrate to victims that she was working on their cases to obtain the promised visas. In actuality, USCIS issues employments authorization documents so that individuals may support themselves and their families pending USCIS action. Once the applications in this case were processed, USCIS was alerted to the fact that the applications had been filed without the victims’ knowledge and began taking action.

As a result of this conduct, Gonzalez allegedly received funds from the victims in excess of $30,000. 

In the past, Gonzalez has also gone by Tania Ayala and Tania Gonzalez Renderos. If you believe you were the victim of Tania Gonzalez, please contact the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs at (516) 571-7756.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Investigative Counsel Jennifer Contreras of NCDA’s Financial Crimes Bureau, with the assistance of Director Silvia Finkelstein of the NCDA’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Gonzalez is represented by Kristin Galison, Esq.  

The NCDA thanks USCIS NY Asylum office an NY Asylum Fraud Detection and National Security unit for their assistance in this investigation. 

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.

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