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USCIS Helps Get Conviction of Former Immigration Consultant in San Jose

Release Date: August 12, 2013

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Evelyn Sineneng-Smith, 66, was convicted by a federal jury on July 30, 2013 of three counts of encouraging illegal immigration for personal gain, and three counts of mail fraud. A federal grand jury indicted her in July of 2010 after a three-year investigation involving five federal agencies:  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Officers with USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) reviewed more than a thousand case files of clients of Sineneng-Smith after the case originated in 2006 when people arrested by HIS said that the immigration consultant had told them they were not deportable. During the execution of an HSI search warrant, FDNS officers interviewed Sineneng-Smith, her husband and an employee. As a result, they were able to prove that those working at the firm knew that the aliens didn’t qualify to immigrate, knowledge central to the conviction.

FDNS officers also uncovered clients who later engaged in marriage fraud, setting them up for further investigation. Sineneng-Smith operated an immigration consultancy from 1990 to 2008. During that time, she met with non-immigrants, mostly citizens of the Philippines in the United States on visitors’ visas. She falsely told them that they could legally immigrate by applying for labor certification.

“The unlawful practice of immigration law victimizes members of our community and harms the integrity of our immigration system,” said San Francisco District FDNS Chief Rebecca Galindo.  “USCIS encourages the public to seek legal advice or representation from attorneys or accredited representatives.”

Sineneng-Smith operated an immigration consultancy, but was neither an attorney nor an accredited representative.  USCIS encourages people who need help filing an application for immigration benefits to seek assistance from the right place and from people who are authorized to help.  For ideas on how to find legal services and avoid scams, go to www.uscis.gov/legaladvice.

Sineneng-Smith will be scheduled for sentencing on November 4, after consideration of post-trial motions. Sentencing guidelines provide for a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of encouraging and inducing illegal immigration for private financial gain, and 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of mail fraud, plus restitution.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 12/20/2013