AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Caldwell County man will spend 10 years in federal prison after being convicted of impersonating a Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent and swindling several undocumented immigrants out hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Modesto Gonzalez III, 47, was accused of telling several undocumented immigrants in the Austin area that he was a DEA agent who could help them get a documented immigrant status in the U.S. He also told this to about 20 people in Chicago. The immigrants paid Gonzalez thousands of dollars.
Several of Gonzalez’s victims said in court that he’d told them if they didn’t pay him they would be deported along with their children. The victims also said he later charged them for “taxes.”
Gonzalez also told U.S. citizens and documented immigrants that he would sell them property seized by the DEA including earth-moving equipment. He was paid tens of thousands of dollars in those interactions.
Gonzalez was not a DEA agent and had no ability to help people with their immigration status or sell DEA property. He also had two prior federal convictions and one state conviction related to impersonating an officer.
“This prosecution is an example of how we seek justice for all victims of crime, including migrants who are in the country illegally,” said U.S. Attorney John F. Bash. “No one deserves to be defrauded.”
On March 21, Gonzalez pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. He was handed a 10-year sentence for the wire fraud and a 5-year sentence for the firearm to run concurrently. Tuesday, Gonzalez was also sentenced to 10 years for impersonating law enforcement. He was ordered to also pay the victims restitution of about $307,000 and be placed on supervised release for three years after completing his prison term.