Contractors Took Bribes to Remove GPS Monitors of Immigrants

Three Miami residents were charged on Friday over a scheme in which they allegedly took bribes to remove the electronic monitoring devices of immigrants facing deportation.

Elisa Pelaez, 54, Ginou Baptiste, 48, and Fritz Cyriaque, 50, were indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to solicit, demand and accept money or anything of value in excess of $5,000 from immigrants under federal supervision.

The U.S. Department of Justice said the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out an undercover operation into an immigration fraud ring related to the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program, which monitors immigrants released from detention as they await deportation proceedings.

Pelaez and Baptiste worked for a company contracted by the U.S. government to help keep track of the immigrants by using electronic GPS monitoring devices, office interviews, and unannounced home visits, among other methods.

“From on or about November 2010 through February 2014, defendants Pelaez and Baptiste used their positions of authority … to unlawfully demand and receive monies from participants in the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program in exchange for removal of their electronic monitoring devices,” the Justice Department wrote in a statement.

Pelaez and Baptiste would identify immigrants they could draw into their scheme and then referred them to Cyriaque, who allegedly pretended to be an ICE agent who could help the immigrants with their immigration issues, the Justice Department said.

Cyriaque would take the bribes and then send the immigrants back to Pelaez and Baptiste, who would remove the monitors.

“Additionally, Pelaez, Baptiste and Cyriaque used intimidation and other means to further the conspiracy and to dissuade participants from reporting their illegal conduct to law enforcement,” the Justice Department added.