Attorney General Becerra Announces Sentencing of Individuals Who Defrauded Victims Seeking Immigration Assistance, Secures Nearly $150,000 in Restitution for Victims of “Oficina Guerrero”
LOS ANGELES — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the sentencing of Edgardo Guerrero, his wife Sidia Landaverde, and his brother Hector Guerrero for their role in operating “Oficina Guerrero” in Inglewood. Through “Oficina Guerrero,” the defendants engaged in the unlicensed practice of immigration law and violated California’s Immigration Consultants Act. This statute regulates non-attorneys who provide basic immigration-related services. Edgardo Guerrero was given a suspended sentence and three years felony probation on condition he serve 270 days of local custody and pay $149,994 in victim restitution. Hector Guerrero was sentenced to probation and public work service, and Sidia Landaverde was granted diversion for one year on condition that victim restitution is paid in full and upon completion of community service. All defendants are now prohibited from providing immigration-related services.
“Scam artists who deceive and steal from vulnerable communities must pay the price for their despicable crimes,” said Attorney General Becerra. “These defendants not only took their victims’ money, they also jeopardized the victims’ opportunity to stay in this country. The California Department of Justice is determined to protect all Californians from fraud. We will continue to prosecute individuals who exploit vulnerable communities to the fullest extent of the law.”
On May 23, 2018, Attorney General Becerra announced criminal charges against Edgardo Guerrero. Attorney General Becerra later filed an amended complaint to charge brother Hector Guerrero and wife Sidia Landaverde. Edgardo Guerrero and Hector Guerrero were charged with grand theft and conspiracy to engage in the unlawful practice of law and violate the Immigration Consultants Act. Edgardo Guerrero and Sidia Landaverde were charged with tax evasion. Landaverde also faced a charge for conspiracy to violate the Immigration Consultants Act. On October 7, 2019, Edgardo Guerrero pled guilty to grand theft and conspiracy to engage in the unlicensed practice of law. Hector Guerrero pled guilty to a violation of the Immigration Consultants Act. Sidia Landeverde pled guilty to failing to file a tax return. Attorney General Becerra’s complaint alleged that their scheme defrauded undocumented immigrants and their families seeking lawful permanent residence in the United States. The brothers charged their victims thousands of dollars for legal services that they were not legally qualified to provide and failed to maintain a required bond.
The California Department of Justice has a long history of pursuing scammers who prey on individuals needing legal assistance or advice with respect to their immigration status. On February 22, 2017, the Attorney General’s office secured a five-year prison sentence for Oswaldo Rafael Cabrera, the owner and operator of Coalición Latinoamericana Internacional for harming undocumented immigrants by misleading them, taking their money, damaging their immigration prospects, and causing their deportation. On March 16, 2018, Attorney General Becerra issued a consumer alert warning Californians to be wary of scam artists or untrained immigration consultants who prey on immigrants by falsely holding themselves out as legally qualified to assist with immigration matters. The consumer alert can be found here. It is also available in Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese.