Paralegal sentenced for money laundering and immigration fraud in U.S.

By Christine Duhaime | September 2nd, 2010

Dalia Preldakaj, a paralegal in the New York law firm of Salvador Collazo, was sentenced today in Manhattan to 78 months in prison for money laundering, witness tampering, immigration application fraud and conspiracy to operate an immigration fraud mill. Collazo is a former Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court who was removed from the bench in 1998 for inappropriate conduct after he passed a note to a court lawyer about the physical attributes of a law intern and then instructed the intern to take off her jacket in court, even though she had nothing on underneath.

Preldakaj and Collazo prepared and submitted hundreds of fraudulent immigration applications on behalf of foreign nationals in New York. Preldakaj charged the foreign nationals thousands of dollars for what she told them were fees charged by the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which in fact were far in excess of the application fees. While out on bail following her arrest, Preldakaj contacted a witness and attempted to persuade the witness to file a false statement that the money paid to Preldakaj for immigration-related work was a personal loan.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara said: “Dalia Preldakaj preyed upon the hopes and dreams of immigrants who trusted her with their applications for status in this country. To line her own pockets, she took their hard-earned money in exchange for what turned out to be empty promises of assistance.”

Former Justice Collazo was found guilty of one count each of conspiracy to commit immigration application fraud, immigration fraud, and making false statements. He will be sentenced in October.

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