ICE Agent Impersonator Gets 11 Plus Years
Robert Mejia was one of the three involved in an immigration scheme in Gaithersburg.
Germantown resident Robert Fred Mejia, of 11605 Seneca Forest Circle, was sentenced to 11 years and five months incarceration today by judge Paul Weinstein. Mejia was participating in a three-person scheme to sell fraudulent citizenship paperwork.
Mejia, 29, was impersonating an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officer and working with Erlinda Marin, a Gaithersburg resident, who was providing medical services without a license and offering her "patients" citizenship in exchange for large sums of cash.
Marin's daughter, Sandra, would take the patient's fingerprints for an extra $12,000 fee. The three were charging residents between $11,000 and $27,000 in cash, collecting approximately $1.2 million over the course of three years. However, tax documents show that Mejia never reported an income exceeding $37,000.
Mejia was previously convicted of impersonating an ICE agent in 2009 when, according to police records, he pulled over over and harassed a Germantown resident. After his release, Mejia teamed up with Marin and her daughter.
Mejia would meet with residents, through Marin, dressed as an ICE agent, carrying a gun. According to the sentencing memo about Mejia, he was driving a Ford Crown Victoria with tinted windows, displaying flashing red and blue lights in the dashboard of his vehicle.The memo also specifies that Mejia wore a badge on his chest and ICE printed on the back of his sweater. Mejia was working under the alias "Jimmy Rico."
Ninety victims were on the record for this case. However, a search warrant showed 396 "patients" who sought medical attention from Marin.
Tissues were passed around the courtroom as witnesses described how the defendant, and Marin, affected their lives. Between 60 and 70 victims were present to hear the testimony.
"He would threaten us that if we would not comply with payments he could deport us," said Caesar Recalde, 27. His voice choked as he described that he sometimes went hungry to save the money to pay Mejia and Marin, a total of $11,000, while also working two jobs.
Elsa Delival paid $12,000 to Marin and Mejia, preventing her from continuing the financial support she was offering to her mother in Venezuela, who suffers from Alzheimer's.
Guillermo Ibarrola's parents Carmen and Eduardo paid the defendant $18,000, which he said then prevented his mother, who suffers from cancer, to get adequate healthcare. The Ibarrola family then moved to New York, fearing Mejia's threats of deportation if they were not "loyal" to Mejia. Ibarrola recalled how Mejia would point to his gun during meetings and say "I'm the power. I have to power. I am the person you should be loyal to."
Attorney Charles Lazar defended Mejia, calling him a "born salesman" who felt out of place in school, coming from a poor family. Mejia dropped out of the school in the 10th grade.
"Not only did we lose a mind but we lost a person," Lazar said.
Mejia addressed the court after witness testimony saying "I pled guilty because of my remorse ... When I do get out I will return to you what is rightfully yours."
When judge Weinstein asked Mejia how he could explain his deceit towards people of his own Hispanic descent he replied, "I agree with you. I have no excuses."
Mejia will serve 11 years and five months in jail, with an additional five years probation. In addition, Mejia was ordered to stay away from all victims after his release.
Maryland State's Attorney John McCarthy said the victims were targets because of their vulnerability and assumption that they would not come forward to police.
"We are here today in Montgomery County to say that assumption is wrong and with the courage of people who are witnesses and victims in crimes coming forward, you will be prosecuted," McCarthy said.