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Defendant Pleads Guilty to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree in connection with Scheme to Defraud Recent Immigrants by False Promises of Expedited Immigration Proceedings
Case Prosecuted as Part of the Orange County District Attorney’s
Office’s Immigrant Affairs Initiative
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, Byron Castillo, 37, formerly of Middletown, pleaded guilty before Orange County Court Judge Robert H. Freehill to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, in connection with a scheme to defraud recent immigrants by false promises of expedited immigration proceedings. At the time that he pleaded guilty, Castillo admitted that he had defrauded a recent immigrant from Ecuador, by promising her that he would arrange to have her relatives obtain United States visas, and would also provide them with false visa documents and plane tickets. Pursuant to the plea agreement placed on the record at the time that Castillo pleaded guilty, the District Attorney’s office will recommend that he be sentenced to one to three years in state prison, and that he pay restitution to five recent immigrants that he had defrauded in this manner.
The case was prosecuted as part of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office’s Immigrant Affairs Initiative. In addition to being charged with the D Felony of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Castillo was also charged with the E felony of Immigrant Assistance Fraud in the First Degree. The prosecution against Castillo, and of an unrelated defendant, Maria Medina, 67, formerly of Wallkill, who pleaded guilty to E felony of Immigrant Assistance Fraud in the First Degree on August 27, 2017, marked the first times that of Immigrant Assistance Fraud in the First Degree had been charged in Orange County.
In August 2016, Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler launched a new initiative designed to assist Orange County’s immigrants in dealing with the criminal justice system. As part of the initiative, the District Attorney’s Office joined the New York State District Attorneys’ League of Immigrant Affairs (DALIA), an organization that comprises eight other New York State district attorney’s offices: the five New York City boroughs as well as Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland Counties. Under the Orange County District Attorney’s Office’s Immigrant Affairs Initiative, an immigrant who has been the victim of a crime is able to call the District Attorney’s Immigrant Affairs Coordinator to report the crime, and the Immigrant Affairs Coordinator, in turn, will ensure that the immigrant’s complaint is routed to the prosecution unit within the District Attorney’s Office that is most appropriate to investigate it. Victimized immigrants may report any type of crime, including violent crimes, human trafficking, domestic violence, and frauds. Immigrants who wish to report being the victim of a crime, or who otherwise need assistance in dealing with a criminal case in which they are the victim, or those wishing additional information about the initiative, may contact Counsel to the District Attorney Robert Conflitti, who serves as the Immigrant Affairs Coordinator by calling (845) 291-2050.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Middletown Police Department for their investigation and the arrest of Castillo.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Kerry Kolek.
"It is our duty as prosecutors to prosecute every crime, regardless of the citizenship status of the victim,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “All crime affects everyone in the community and diminishes everyone’s quality of life. Those who think that they can escape arrest or prosecution in Orange County by preying on undocumented immigrants, who may be reluctant to come forward because of their immigration status, are sadly mistaken. It must be well understood that this Office will not tolerate criminal acts of any type, against any victim. We are a nation of immigrants and all of our residents deserve to be free from being victimized by crime. I urge anyone who believes that they or someone they know has been a victim of Immigrant Assistance Services Fraud, or any immigrant who has been the victim of a crime, but is reluctant to report that crime for fear of immigration consequences, to contact our Immigrant Affairs Coordinator or any other appropriate law enforcement agency.”
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.