Nassau DA: Cedarhurst woman stole $39,150 from immigrants

Posted

At least men people looking for help with their immigration status were the victims of an alleged scheme that netted a Cedarhurst woman $39,150, according to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.

Marie Lisa Smith, also known as Michelle Lewis, a/k/a Marie Throught, a/k/a Michelle Regina Lewis, 38, was arraigned before Judge William Hohauser on June 7. She has been charged with three counts of grand larceny third degree, three counts of immigrant assistant services fraud, one count of scheme to defraud first-degree and one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument third-degree.

“This defendant allegedly victimized vulnerable immigrants by stealing thousands of dollars from them with a bogus promise of assistance with citizenship, green cards, and employment,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said. “Crimes against immigrants are on the rise and our Office of Immigrant Affairs is dedicated to seeking justice for victims regardless of their immigration status.”

Smith allegedly met her first victim in April 2015 when she hired him to do work on her home, Singas said. Smith allegedly told the man she could assist him with his family’s immigration status. The man paid Smith $28,500 which was allegedly for an immigration lawyer associated with Smith. She provided the man with forged documents that were purported to be from the U.S. Department of Justice and the name of a lawyer who had no knowledge of the victim’s case.

That same month, Smith met another person through her first alleged victim and said she was willing to sponsor the man for citizenship. Smith allegedly promised that she would give him a job at the nursing home she owned and that he would have working papers within six months, even though Smith does not own or operate a nursing home. The second man paid Smith a total of $3,750, and to date has not received a green card or any immigration documents or any nursing home employment.

A third man met Smith in May 2015. While working at Smith’s house, she allegedly offered him a job at the nursing home she falsely claimed to own. Smith informed the third man that he could obtain working papers and then after six months he could apply for a green card. Smith told him that she had a lawyer who specialized in immigration law and who would process the papers and application. He paid Smith a total of $6,900 and to date has not received a green card or any other immigration documents or any nursing home employment.

The charges arise from an investigation initiated by the NCDA Office of Immigrant Affairs. It is continuing. Anyone who believes they might be a victim of an immigration fraud perpetrated by Smith is encouraged to contact the District Attorney at (516)571-3505.

Bail was set at $7,500 bond or $5,000 cash. Smith is due back in court June 8. If convicted of the top charge, she faces a maximum of 2-1/3 years to seven years in prison.