Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge Mary S. Scriven today sentenced Nelson Israel Alfaro (49, Miami) to 14 months in federal prison for conspiring to defraud the United States, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to federal law enforcement officers. The court also ordered Alfaro to forfeit $117,500 to the United States, the proceeds of his related crimes.
Alfaro had pleaded guilty on December 13, 2019.
According to court documents, Alfaro was an attorney who represented criminal defendants in Florida federal and state courts, including the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. From early 2017 to August 2019, Alfaro and his former client, Gilberto De Los Rios, concocted a scheme to charge an already-sentenced federal defendant tens of thousands of dollars for information that they then falsely and fraudulently presented to the United States as the defendant’s “cooperation” and “substantial assistance,” in order to trigger a sentence reduction for the defendant.
To achieve this sentence reduction, Alfaro concocted a plan to purchase information that would be of interest to law enforcement, which the federal defendant could falsely claim as his own cooperation. Alfaro planned to charge the federal defendant $50,000 as Alfaro’s personal fee for this effort, and an additional $30,000 to pay for the information that would earn the federal defendant substantial assistance credit. Alfaro’s scheme required him to enlist the aid of another person known to him, but unknown to the federal defendant—De Los Rios, whom Alfaro had represented regarding Florida state criminal charges in 2010-2011.
Over time, Alfaro’s plan transformed into a plot to earn the federal defendant substantial assistance credit by paying De Los Rios to cooperate on behalf of the federal defendant. In doing so, Alfaro fabricated a story about the relationship between De Los Rios and the federal defendant, about which he repeatedly lied and provided false and fraudulent information to federal law enforcement agents.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Josephine W. Thomas.