August 14, 2017
Kate Morrissey

Eleno “Max” Quinteros Jr. of Chula Vista took a plea deal in San Diego’s federal court on Thursday to charges that he made false statements to get green cards for some of his companies’ employees.

In the plea agreement, Quinteros, a 45-year-old airline staffing company executive, said he collected $560,000 from an estimated 85 airline mechanics to help them get legal permanent residency in the U.S., according to a news release from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On the employees’ visa applications, he had to certify that he did not receive money for sponsoring their green cards because it is illegal for employers to charge employees for sponsoring a green card.

Quinteros pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement, and he admitted in the plea deal that the practice had involved over 25 immigration documents.

“Not only do schemes like this potentially rob deserving immigrants of benefits they rightfully deserve, they also create a security vulnerability that could be exploited by criminals and others who pose a danger to our community,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles, in a statement.

Quinteros used some of the money to pay the costs of filing immigration paperwork and pocketed the rest through methods meant to avoid detection, like using his wife’s bank account or blank money orders, according to court documents.

“Legal permanent residency is not for sale,” said Alana Robinson, acting U.S. attorney, in a statement. “This office is dedicated to fighting immigration fraud and prosecuting those who hawk lawful immigration status for their own personal financial gain.”

Quinteros recruited the mechanics from Mexico to work for two Arizona-based airline staffing companies for which Quinteros served as vice president, according to the indictment. The companies were not named in the case though court documents indicate that he was a part-owner of one of the companies.

He is scheduled for sentencing in November.