Stephen Gibbons, Assistant District Attorney  CONTACT PERSON: 
Dale B. Lohman, Deputy District Attorney
Major Fraud Unit
(408) 792-2599    For release on June 29, 2004      DEFENDANTS CONVICTED IN SANTA CLARA COUNTY’S LARGEST IMMIGRATION FRAUD   Santa Clara County’s largest immigration fraud case in history was resolved yesterday afternoon less than one month before a jury trial was set to begin on July 26. Defendant Noel Ramayrat pleaded no contest to 61 felony counts including multiple counts of grand theft, payroll tax evasion and tax fraud. Mercedes Alcantara pleaded no contest to 28 felony counts. The pleas came following a five-week preliminary hearing in Superior Court.   The defendants owned and operated LICG, Inc. (“Labor and Immigration Consulting Group” or “Legal Immigration and Consulting Group”) with offices 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. The defendants also misrepresented that they could obtain amnesty for clients under an 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 also underreported his 2000 income on his personal California tax return in order to evade taxes. Both defendants failed to file 2001 individual tax returns.   Both defendants will be committed to state prison. Defendant Ramayrat will be sentenced to up to six years in state prison. Defendant Alcantara will be sentenced to two to three years in state prison. Both defendants will be ordered to pay restitution to their victims. The next court date for the pair is August 18, 2004.   ###

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