Judge sentences Cuban fraudster to 18 months in federal prison
A judge sentenced a fraudster to 18 months in prison Monday for impersonating a federal agent.
U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Eugenio Agustin Munoz-Canellas, 55, of Mission to 18 months in federal prison followed by 12 months probation, according to federal court records.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Munoz — a Cuban citizen with a history of fraud and theft arrests in Hidalgo County — during September.
On Sept. 23, an informant met with Munoz in McAllen, according to the criminal complaint against him. Munoz claimed to be a Border Patrol agent.
Munoz asked for a copy of the informant's Mexican visa and two recent passport photos, claiming he could arrange legal permanent resident status for the informant.
"MUNOZ-Canellas stated to the CI that through his employment as a U.S. Federal Agent, he could obtain LPR status for the CI, in exchange for $7,000," according to the criminal complaint.
The informant handed Munoz the passport photos and a $2,800 down payment, according to the criminal complaint. When Munoz left the meeting, federal agents arrested him.
The ICE Office of Professional Responsibility and Homeland Security Investigations coordinated the sting operation.
Munoz started the scam in July 2015, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas.
"Using that position, Munoz illegally solicited bribe payments from multiple individuals seeking legal status in the United States," according to the news release.
Munoz pleaded guilty to impersonating a federal employee, which is punishable by a maximum three years in prison. The judge sentenced him to 18 months in prison followed by 12 months probation.
"In handing down the sentence, Judge Crane considered the defendant’s extensive criminal history of theft and fraud and noted the need to impose a sentence that protected the community and promoted respect for the law," according to the news release.