for Immigration Scam
From El Diario
July 24, 2004
Using religion as cover for immigration fraud,
a man and a woman managed to scam about 40 immigrants. But now
nothing will help them escape from the hands of justice.
Simmons, 62 years old, surrendered to authorities yesterday and
Judge Fitzgerald set her bail at $15,000.
Simmons is better
known as “mother archbishop” due to her involvement
in a religious community called Saint Barbara of Sardis, which
she managed from her home in Brooklyn.
Cristopher Pendarvis, 65
years old, who operated “Immigration
Business Consultants” in Manhattan, was formally accused
by a judge in Manhattan’s Criminal Court under charges of
grand larceny and fraud. He remains in custody with bail set at
If found guilty, the defendants could face up to four years
According to the Manhattan district attorney’s office,
Simmons was sending her parishioners, who are mostly from Jamaica,
Belize, Tobago, Trinidad and St. Lucia, to Pendarvis’ office,
where Pendarvis would “help” them obtain their green
Pendarvis, who used to charge from a few hundred up to 8,000
dollars per case, would give his clients contracts so they could
employees from the Saint Barbara of Sardis temple. But during the
investigation, the district attorney’s office discovered
that he never sent the documents to the immigration agency.
her side, Simmons, a native of Guyana, used to charge her parishioners
between $250 and $500 to sponsor them.
“We believe that there are more than 50 victims, and I would like
the people who were scammed to call (212) 335-8900 to press charges”,
said Robert Morgenthau, Manhattan’s district attorney.
investigation started at the beginning of 2004, when a victim showed
up at the Manhattan district attorney’s office claiming
to have paid $8,000 to Pendarvis, who never helped solve the situation.
two victims, who concealed their identities to protect themselves
due to their illegal status, also charged that the accused
had stolen between $5,000 and $8,000 from them.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
Translated from Spanish by Maria Noel