Senior U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington today sentenced Elvis Harold Reyes to 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme where he posed as an immigration lawyer and filed hundreds of fraudulent asylum applications. The Court deferred consideration of victim restitution to a later date.
According to court documents, Reyes, who owned and operated EHR Ministries Inc., portrayed himself as an immigration attorney. He is not and has never been a licensed attorney. Reyes targeted undocumented immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries who were seeking Florida driver licenses and work authorization. Reyes gave false, inaccurate, and incomplete legal and immigration advice to victims in order to induce them to retain his services and those of EHR Ministries.
Victims retained and paid Reyes to represent them in immigration-related matters before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other agencies. Reyes filed fraudulent immigration applications in the victims’ names, seeking asylum relief and withholding-of-removal protections provided for under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. In doing so, Reyes falsified answers to questions in the asylum applications—fabricating stories about threats, persecution, and the applicants’ fear of returning to their native countries. Reyes did not inform the victims of the answers that he had provided on their behalf. He also did not inform the victims about the legal, administrative, and other immigration-related consequences that might follow from filing for asylum relief or for Convention Against Torture protection.
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