Prosecutors: He Promised Customers He Could Obtain Them Legal U.S. Status

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A northern New Jersey man who posed as a federal immigration officer to defraud people seeking legal status in the United States has been sentenced to 33 months in prison.

Ruben Alvarado, 28, of Elizabeth, also must pay $33,459 in restitution under the sentence imposed Tuesday, prosecutors said. He had pleaded guilty to a complaint charging him with impersonation of a federal officer and identity fraud.

The illegal acts occurred from September 2009 through May 2011 and then again earlier this year, according to prosecutors, who added that Alvardo demanded and obtained money from his victims after promising to help them obtain legal — or more permanent — status in the United States.

Alvarado recruited victims in New Jersey through in-person contact and victims in Florida via Facebook.

When his customers realized he was a fraud and demanded their money back, Alvarado would threaten them by claiming to have the power to deport them and their children, prosecutors said.

Alvarado was initially charged in October 2012, but during a traffic stop in March, police found him with false immigration applications, a fingerprinting kit, clothing bearing the letters “I.C.E.,” a holster and blank pistol, and a fake “I.C.E.” badge.

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