Karen Cacao, a former Naples, Florida immigration attorney, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly forging letters and submitting fraudulent lease agreements and financial information to aid six immigrants in Naples in obtaining permanent residency. Cacao, who faces up to 15 years in federal prison and $500,000 in fines if convicted, is being charged with four counts of visa fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Cacao was released shortly after her arrest Tuesday on $50,000 bail bond.
According to her bio, Coco has offices in Naples as well as in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and San Diego, California. She is apparently a member of both the Florida bar and the bar of the District of Columbia, and her bio says that “she is the only immigration attorney in the world to have visited all of the USCIS approved Regional Centers and has put the Regional Center stories onto DVD for distribution and education through the website.”
Press sources indicate that Cacao ran a company called International Immigration Services PA, which is located on Pine Ridge Road, up until last year. Investigators reportedly believe Cacao helped immigrants stay in the United States through a complicated scheme. She allegedly set up businesses using her former law firm’s address for immigrants to report as their place of work. These foreign nationalists were then able to apply for permanent resident “green cards” that allowed them to work in the United States after only a year. This activity reportedly lasted from 2005 to 2010.
Sources say that the immigration applicants claimed they possessed “specialty occupations,” such as specific knowledge and bachelor degrees. Some of the applicants purportedly said that they also had “extraordinary abilities” in the fields of arts, science, education, or athletics. Others claimed that they were “transferees” that were temporarily assigned to the U.S. to work in the management or executive fields because they had foreign expertise in those areas, sources say. Cacao, according to detectives, may have advised the immigrants to make these claims.
Sources also indicate that the immigrants submitted false applications and documents, such as financial statements, lease agreements, letters of support, and charts to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. It is not clear where the immigrants got these allegedly fake documents, nor is it clear whether detectives suspect that Cacao provided them. It is similarly unclear what will happen to the immigrants who acquired permanent residence through the purported scheme. The identities of the immigrants have not been released to the public, and it is not known whether they have been detained or deported.
Investigators also accused Cacao of lying about her own employment status in order to obtain permanent residency in the United States. She is apparently denying the allegations against her, though it is not known how she plans to legally handle the case. It is also not known whether Cacao could face deportation if authorities found that she attained her permanent residency through unlawful means.
One news outlet also claimed that Cacao denied involvement in a similar visa fraud scheme in August of last year. During that incident, a paralegal she had previously employed was put under probation after cooperating with federal agents. The details in that case are unclear; it is not known whether the paralegal, who has not been publicly identified, plans on pursuing legal action.