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25859: Hermantin(News)Haitian aid group accused of cheating Broward migrants seeking wo (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Haitian aid group accused of cheating Broward migrants seeking work permits
By Akilah Johnson
July 28, 2005
A Broward County community organization and its director were indicted on
charges that they cheated thousands of unwitting illegal immigrants out of
millions of dollars by filing fraudulent work permit forms, federal authorities
The Haitian American Community Help Organization of South Florida Inc. and its
Executive Director Gomez Accime, charged people $450 to fill out and file
employment authorization applications, according to court documents. The
government charges a $175 filing fee and waives that for those with pending
"This organization would file a request for employment authorization documents
regardless if they were entitled to it or not," said Mark Briesemeister,
assistant special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's
Miami office. "Over 99 percent of these applications have been denied because
there was no basis for filing them."
Accime was indicted July 19 on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy and presenting
false applications for employment authorization. He will make his first court
appearance today in Miami before federal Magistrate Ted Bandstra.
There are two categories for work permit eligibility: refugee status, for those
with pending asylum applications, and domestic servants employed by
The organization filed more than 10,000 fraudulent forms to the United States
Citizenship and Immigration Services and received more than $3 million for
doing so, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
One of those forms belonged to a 20-year-old Port-au-Prince native living in
Boca Raton, who asked not to be identified because she is in the United States
illegally. After a friend told her about the organization, she and her three
family members drove to the group's Lauderdale Lakes office at 2 a.m. and
waited in line for more than seven hours, she said.
Each paid $480 to have their work permit applications filed, she said. That was
"I received a receipt, but after that I never heard from them," the student at
Palm Beach Community College said. "I tried to call them, but they didn't
answer the phone."
According to Briesemeister, immigration advocates and lawyers, people traveled
from all over the country seeking help from the group.
As investigators carted away boxes of evidence from the storefront office at
4696 N. State Road 7 on Wednesday, they encountered several people who had
traveled from New York and New Jersey, Briesemeister said. Those individuals
were taken into custody, he said.
Accime and the organization didn't only target Haitians, but also Jamaicans,
Trinidadians and people from Guyana, Africa and Europe, according to court
Their "fate in the U.S. ultimately will be decided by a U.S. immigration
judge," Briesemeister said.
Staff Writer Kevin Smith and Researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this
Akilah Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4631.
Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel