Chris LaRiche, the "Lothario Notario," scammed almost 900 immigrants, prosecutors allege
Read this week's cover, "The Lothario Notario," for more on Chris LaRiche's immigration scam
This week's cover story, "The Lothario Notario," reveals how a local man allegedly scammed undocumented immigrants with false promises of citizenship.
Mario Alberto Martinez-Alanis used the fake name "Chris LaRiche" and promised to get jobs and legal status for undocumented immigrants who came to his downtown Minneapolis office. He was arrested in November on charged of perjury and forgery stemming from testimony Martinez-Alanis made under oath in a bizarre lawsuit against a former employee.
Our feature broke the news that Hennepin County prosecutors planned to charge Martinez-Alanis with theft by swindle. Assistant county attorney Paul Scoggin filed that charge yesterday morning in Judge Tanya Bransford's courtroom. The amended complaint details LaRiche's alleged scams and claims he "admitted that he only obtained about five jobs for the 900 people that he collected fees from."
One case detailed in the complaint identifies an immigrant identified as "C.G." who went to Martinez-Alanis' downtown office, where he was allegedly promised "a work authorization card" and permanent residency for $700.
Another immigrant identified as "N.E." paid Martinez-Alanis $750 for legal papers. When "N.E." went to his office to pick up the documents, Martinez-Alanis demanded $750 more. Two weeks later, the complaint alleges, Martinez-Alanis began calling the victim and demanding $1,300 "and telling her that if she didn't pay he would report her to the immigration authorities," according to the complaint.
One victim identified as "M.S." met with Martinez-Alanis in February after hearing his advertisements on the radio. Martinez-Alanis offered this victim a "real U.S. work authorization card" for $300, but the victim didn't believe the offer was legitimate and "refused to pay."
While Martinez-Alanis told immigrants he was filing cases on their behalf with United States Customs and Immigration Services, he "never applied for work permits or immigration papers for any of the above-mentioned applications -- or anyone else for that matter," according to the complaint.
But Martinez-Alanis did, at one point, call the national immigration tip line and offer to "report a number of illegal immigrants." He also "inquired whether there would be a reward for such information."
Martinez-Alanis' public defender, Michael Holland, declined to comment after the hearing. Martinez-Alanis was present in the courtroom but did not address the court. His case has been continued for two weeks.
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