Immigration Consequences of White Collar Crime
Recently, a Florida businessman was handed a sentence for nine years in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to defraud a bank. Pedro Benevides has been ordered to forfeit property worth over $44 million, including $40 in cash accounts, and two exotic sports cars. The exact amount of required restitution will be pinned down at a later hearing. Benevides obtained numerous loans and lines of credit for commercial and residential properties, from several different banks, by submitting documents falsifying information about his business activities. He then used these funds for his own purposes, and to repay past loans.
Benevides was investigated by several federal agencies, including the IRS, the Secret Service, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). HSI is the investigatory branch of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and it generally gets involved when suspects are noncitizens. HSI has vast resources and trained agents who employ specialized tactics to uncover fraudulent activity.
The consequences of a criminal conviction can be especially harsh for aspiring Americans, and any immigrant who has not yet become a citizen, or who is not eligible for citizenship, can be removed from the U.S. due to certain crimes or acts. These offenses are listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a), and they include:
- Controlled substance offenses;
- Crimes of moral turpitude;
- Multiple moral turpitude convictions;
- Aggravated felonies;
- Firearm and destructive device convictions;
- Espionage, sabotage, treason, and other crimes;
- Crimes of domestic violence, stalking, child abuse, abandonment, or neglect;
- Failure to register as a sex offender;
- Violating a protective order;
- High speed flight from an immigration checkpoint; and
- Failure to register or falsification of documents.
In addition to the categories of crime listed above, which could expose an immigrant to deportability, there are several offenses that could cause an immigrant to be classified as “inadmissible”. These are codified in 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a). Most commonly, this impacts green card holders who apply for citizenship, and can place their naturalization pathway in jeopardy. These crimes are listed as crimes of moral turpitude, controlled substance offenses, and multiple criminal convictions.
Beyond criminal convictions, many acts do not even require court proceedings and a finding of guilt in order to seal the fate of a non-citizen as “removable.” This can include crimes of moral turpitude, controlled substance offenses, prostitution, fraud or misrepresentation, false claims to United States citizenship, alien smuggling, marriage fraud, human trafficking, money laundering, espionage, sabotage, treason, terrorism, international child abduction, and others.
Seek Advice and Representation Now
For many non-citizens accused of white collar crimes, understanding the impact of a conviction, or even of charges or mere accusations, is crucial. Definitions, especially those relating to aggravated felonies and crimes of moral turpitude, are extremely complex, and the way that they are applied is even more uncertain. A criminal defense attorney with experience advocating for immigrant clients will be able to inform you on how the law might apply to you, and will fight for your rights to remain in the United States. Contact the office of Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. today for a free consultation on the potential immigration consequences of any allegations leveled against you. We serve clients in southern Florida.