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RMV Employee Arrested for Allegedly Swindling Immigrants, Illegal Aliens

The Brighton woman was the subject of a 20-month federal investigation.

Federal and state investigators arrested a Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles employee on Friday for allegedly defrauding illegal aliens.

Adriana Ferreira, 48, of Brighton, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested in Watertown Friday morning and charged with “numerous violations of Massachusetts law,” including corruption, bribery and larceny, according to a statement released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.

Ferreira allegedly held herself out as a “notario,” a Spanish-language term for certain trained legal advisors, but was neither a lawyer nor a notary public, according to the Suffolk Distirct Attorney's office. She allegedly used her knowledge of the American legal system to obtain bribes, ostensibly to delay or end deportation proceedings or obtain Massachusetts drivers’ licenses for her victims. She never actually provided those services, however.

“There’s no room for this type of corruption at any level of government,” District Attorney Conley said. “This is a case of greed and exploitation that we will pursue aggressively. I’d like to thank State Police and Homeland Security Investigations for their careful work as we built this case over an extended period of time.”

Ferreira was indicted on 27 counts, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for the District Attorney's office, including five counts of larceny by false pretenses, four counts of attempted larceny by false pretenses, 14 counts of bribery and corrupt bribery, and four counts of conspiracy to commit RMV fraud. She is due in Suffolk Superior Court today.

The investigation began in March 2011 and involves several state and local agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and Office of Professional Responsibility, Massachusetts State Police and the Somerville Police Department.

In July 2009, Ferreira was approached by a woman whose husband was arrested and held on an immigration detainer. Ferreira allegedly represented that she could get the man out of jail by paying off an immigration official. When the victim became suspicious, she went to Massachusetts State Police and agreed to wear a wire to record their meetings surreptitiously. Over time, she paid $4,100 – including $2,000 provided by Conley’s office – in meetings that were recorded by the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit. Troopers also conducted surveillance of Ferreira herself, who never met with any official or anyone else. Eventually, the woman’s husband accepted voluntary departure from the US in December 2009. 

In February 2011, Ferreira allegedly promised to bribe an immigrations official to stall or end deportation proceedings against another victim and obtain a Massachusetts driver’s license for him. She ultimately took $1,180 from that man and an additional $800 that HIS agents provided to him when he, too, became frustrated with the increasing demands for money. He also wore a wire and recorded their meetings. When he contacted her in October 2011 to demand his money back, Ferreira allegedly turned him in to immigrations officials for deportation.

Ferreira allegedly executed similar schemes against three other victims between June 2011 and earlier this year. In each, she accepted cash payments ranging from $500 to $1100 to deliver driver’s licenses and immigrations services but delivered neither. When those victims demanded what they’d paid for or their money back, Ferreira allegedly threatened them or ignored them.

Ferreira will return to court on Dec. 6.

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