On Thursday, an Indianapolis woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison after scamming people trying to get immigration documents.
Judith Palma, who ran her immigration scam through local churches, reportedly gained the trust of two pastors, offering them the false promise of legal immigration documents for a fee. Palma, who was known as Roma Smith, took over $200, 000 from victims, as a "down payment" for their U.S. Permanent Residency Cards and other documents.
According to court documents, Palma would tell undocumented individuals she had a contact named "Ms. Warner" who worked in the Indianapolis Immigration Office.
“Judith Palma took advantage of some of the most vulnerable and naïve individuals in our community. Persons such as Palma who exploit a position of trust and target such vulnerable victims will be strenuously investigated and prosecuted,” Prosecutor Terry R. Curry said. “I commend our Grand Jury Division investigators and our interpreters who worked tirelessly on this case.”
Palma pleaded guilty to 17 felony counts of theft and is believed to have to victimize more than 170 individuals of the Latino community.
Aside from her 10-year sentence, Palma was ordered to pay $274,113 to her victims.