Two self-described pastors have been charged with allegedly running an immigration scam out of a storefront church in Corona.
Gregorio Gonzalez and Gerardo Bello were arraigned last night and are being held without bail on grand larceny and fraud charges.
The Queens District Attorney's Office says the men promised work visas and legal status to at least 70 immigrants – charging as much as 8,000 for each document. The DA says the victims, mostly Ecuadorian immigrants, were bilked out of $500,000.
Gonzalez and Bello face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
And from the NY Post:
An unholy alliance of church leaders fleeced their Queens flock out of more than $9.3 million in an investment scam that preyed on the elderly and disabled, authorities said yesterday.
The alleged sinister ministers at the Local Christian Assembly Church in Forest Hills doubled as the congregation's financial advisers, funneling cash into their own investment company and spending much of it on jewelry, clothes, vacations and a $200,000 Bentley.