FROM:
Alvin G.   CON TACT PERSON: 
Dale B. Lohman, Deputy District Attorney
Major Fraud Unit
(408) 792-2599    For Release On January 2, 2003     CHARGES FILED IN IMMIGTATION AND TAX LAW CASE   The Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney has filed felony charges against two of the owners of a local immigration consulting firm. Noel Ramayrat, 51, and Mercedes Alcantara, 45, both Filipino nationals, were arrested on December 27, 2002 following a two-year investigation by the Office of the District Attorney and State Employment Development Department.  Ramayrat faces 33 felony counts:  18 counts of grand theft, 12 counts of payroll tax evasion, one count of income tax evasion, and one count each of conspiracy to commit illegal immigration consulting and unauthorized practice of law.  Alcantara is charged with 19 felony violations.   The defendants owned and operated LICG, Inc.  (“Labor and Immigration Consulting Group” or “Legal Immigration and Consulting Group”) located at 586 North First Street and 255 North Market Street in San Jose. The unbonded company  processed labor certification and H1B visa petitions on behalf of primarily Mexican and Filipino clients. The defendants obtained new clients through advertising in local papers, the phone book, seminars, and word of mouth.   Ramayrat, who is not licensed to practice law in California, represented himself as an immigration attorney and gave legal advice to clients.  Many of the clients were dishwashers, busboys and kitchen workers who agreed to pay up to six thousand dollars apiece after being promised labor certifications and green cards for which they were unlikely to qualify.  The defendants also misrepresented that they could obtain amnesty for clients under a recently-passed immigration law known as 245(i).      The defendants also owned and operated EmpBase, Inc., which they advertised as a placement agency that would find sponsor employers for Filipino professionals whose visa petitions LICG was processing.  Victims were lured to the United States with promises of high-paying jobs, but when they arrived, the promised jobs did not exist and the victims were stranded here.  In what has been described as a “bait-and-switch” operation, some of the employees were then offered low-paying clerical jobs that violated their immigration petitions.    One local company, Apple Vacations, hired over fifty workers through EmpBase after being assured by the defendants that each of the workers was “legal”.  When it was discovered that all were working illegally, they were terminated.         On state tax forms, EmpBase failed to disclose the existence of the employees it had placed at Apple.  In addition, the defendants withheld state taxes from the employees’ wages but failed to forward the money to the State of California in violation of state laws.  Ramayrat is also alleged to have underreported his 2000 income on his personal California tax return in order to evade taxes.   If convicted, Ramayrat could face over thirty-one years in state prison.  If convicted, Alcantara, who also uses the name Deea Santos, faces twenty-two years in prison.  The next court date for the pair is January 3, 2003.   LICG and EmpBase are believed to have additional offices in Fresno, Salinas, Daly City, San Diego, Hayward and Salinas.  They may also have offices in New Jersey, Illinois and Utah.  It is believed that there may be hundreds of victims of this fraud.  Anyone with information or questions is encouraged to call Santa Clara County D. A. Investigator Gary Medlin at (408) 792-2917. The District Attorney’s Office is working closely with the United States Attorney’s Office.  Victims are assured that the District Attorney’s Office will not refer them to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.   Weger, Assistant District Attorney ​

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