By Karen Zautyk
A Kearny woman who used the hopes and dreams – and money – of immigrants to satisfy her taste for casino gambling, fur coats and designer clothes pleaded guilty last week in Federal Court to wire fraud, money laundering and impersonating a government official.
The defendant, 55-year-old Rosa Blake, who also went by the names “Mafalda” and “Rosa Vareiro,” had “orchestrated a scheme to defraud dozens of immigrants out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by pretending she could help them become United States citizens,” said U.S. Attorney Paul A. Fishman.
Blake, reportedly a native of Portugal and a legal resident of the U.S., had been arrested at her Kearny home in December 2009 by special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and of the Internal Revenue Service.
Although in reality a self-employed housekeeper, she had – from at least May 2004 until April 2009 – posed as a federal official who could help expedite approval of immigrants’ paperwork, including applications for permanent residency “green cards” and employment authorization.
In exchange for her “services,” her victims would pay thousands in fees, either in cash or by wiring money to her in the Atlantic City area or via a bank account in Ilhavo, Portugal.