LAREDO, Texas – A 51-year-old Laredoan has admitted to wire fraud and extortion under color of official right, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Rito Salomon Palacios, 51, masqueraded at varying times as an officer or employee of Customs and Border Protection, an immigration officer or another federal officer or employee. At the plea today, the court also heard he delivered receipts in a document bearing the seal of the Department of Transportation.
Palacios defrauded and extorted members of the public who were not citizens or nationals of the United States. He took money or property by false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises to deliver immigration visas, permits or residency in the United States. As part of the scheme, Palacios utilized the internet to set appointments for his victims.
Palacios has admitted as part of the plea that he demanded and obtained more than $72,000 from the fraud and extortion scheme.
U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana will impose sentencing at a date to be set at a later time. At that time, Palacios faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. He was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Professional Responsibility and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno is prosecuting the case.