Morejón also advised J.R. not to talk too much while in the custody of immigration authorities before being paroled, apparently to avoid detection of their non-Cuban accents or saying things that a Cuban could not say or know.
“You’re going to be at a place where there would be seven or eight people,” Morejón tells J.R., according to the transcript. “ ‘Hey, how did you get here?’ ‘In a raft.’ ‘Are you Cuban?’ ‘Yes.’ That’s all. That’s all. You don’t have to say more or make much conversation.”
A contrite Silvestri, 55, told Altonaga on Thursday that he was remorseful, and gave the court interpreter a letter to read. Silvestri said he could not read the letter himself because his eyeglasses were broken.
In the letter, Silvestri said he became involved in the fake birth certificate-selling ring because he was desperate to get immigration status himself and because many undocumented immigrants he knew pressured him for help. He also said he felt pressured by Morejón.
“I was waiting for President [Barack] Obama’s immigration reform, but it never came,” wrote Silvestri, by way of explaining his decision to buy a Cuban birth certificate, allegedly from Morejón. “In a moment of great desperation, I accepted [Morejón’s] offer.”
Prosecutors say that while Morejón was the ringleader, Silvestri was the “second most culpable” in the case because he was “very active” in recruiting buyers for the fake birth certificates.
According to court records, Morejón helped Silvestri and his wife get fake Cuban birth certificates, which they then used to obtain green cards. Afterward, the court papers say, the couple helped Morejón recruit other undocumented immigrants who paid $10,000 to $15,000 per certificate.
Prosecutors said Osorio, 61, was the “third most culpable” in the case because she also helped recruit clients. Her attorney, Richard Aldo Serafini, disagreed, telling Altonaga that Osorio played a minor role in the case and aided the government with information that helped investigators dismantle the ring.
“I want to apologize to the government of the United States, the country that gave me freedom,” Osorio told the court minutes before she was sentenced. “I am very remorseful.”
She also said she had agreed to help the ring sell the certificates because Morejón had promised to help “save my son.”
Court records indicate that she paid Morejón $3,500 for a fake presidential pardon for her adult son, who had been convicted of a crime.
Court papers also showed that Morejón posed as an immigration officer who promised to shield potential buyers from deportation or threatened them with deportation if they failed to pay.
½ years, starting in 2009, the group sold fake Cuban birth certificates to about 50 undocumented immigrants, bringing in more than $500,000.