Law firm employees plead not guilty in immigration fraud case

Law firm employees plead not guilty in immigration fraud case

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Employees of the Alcala Law Firm pleaded not guilty to charges accusing them of perpetuating the largest immigration fraud scheme in state history.

During an appearance Wednesday in U.S. District Court, attorney James Alcala, 41, entered a plea to the federal grand jury indictment.

"Not guilty, your honor," he said.

Carlos Vorher, 43, a former U.S. Border Patrol Agent; Andres Acosta Parra, 31, a former visa worker at a consulate in Mexico; and Gustavo Ballesteros-Munoz, 45, also pleaded not guilty.


They're all charged with visa fraud and accused of involvement of fraudulently obtaining temporary worker visas for companies whose employees were already in the United States illegally. The companies remain under investigation, federal authorities have said.

Meanwhile, defense attorneys for the men are just wading through evidence.

"There's a lot of information in this case and we're just going to have to sort through everything," Alcala's lawyer, Suzanne Gustin, told KSL NewsRadio outside of court.

In court on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah estimated any trial would take six to eight weeks to prosecute because of the complexity of the case. Complicating it would also be issues of attorney-client privilege.

"That will be one of the issues are the privileges," Gustin said. "We'll take a look at that."

A federal magistrate judge allowed the men to be released from jail if they wear ankle-monitoring GPS devices. They were also told to have no contact with victims or witnesses in the case and to surrender their passports.


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Ben Winslow


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