Tanya Garcia, 40, of Whittier, CA worked as a paralegal at several Los Angeles and Riverside county immigration law firms. The law firms helped clients with immigration matter such as obtaining asylum, relief from deportation, U.S. residence and citizenship, and work permits. From October 2014 until October 2018, Garcia took money from clients for immigration-related legal services and filing fees. Garcia told the clients to leave the “pay to” line on money orders and checks blank.
Then, Garcia then wrote her own name in the “pay to” line on the money orders and checks, and several times, she crossed out “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” from the “pay to” line of money orders and wrote in her own name. Garcia put the payments into her personal bank accounts and used the money to pay for personal expenses such as her mortgage, credit card bills, and clothes. She took about $181,344.
The information comes from an indictment which contains allegations that Garcia committed a crime. She is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 62 years in federal prison.