A N.Y. traffic officer who also serves as the treasurer of a public employees Am. Fed’n of State, County & Mun. Employees Local 983 was charged in court Oct. 18 with cheating two recent immigrants of more than $1,600 while running a tax and immigration aid business. Two women paid the officer, Fernando Rodriguez, who is also a certified public accountant, to help them with tax and immigration paperwork, but he funneled the money to his union and to himself, said Asst. DA Lee Llambelis . He was charged with fraud, grand larceny and petty larceny.
One woman, Arcelia Zacarias, reportedly gave Rodriguez an unaddressed postal money order worth $651 to pay taxes that she owed in 1997. He gave Zacarias a receipt showing that he was making the payment to the IRS, but the IRS soon notified Zacarias that her taxes had not been paid. The U.S. Postal Serv. reported that the money order was made out to “Local 983 DC 37 AFSCME” and had a note allegedly saying that the payment would go to Hurricane George relief.
Zacarias’ sister, Rosio, also went to Rodriguez, seeking help with her immigration petition. She gave him more than $1,000 in cash and a money order to be made out to the INS to pay for fees. Investigators later found that the money order was deposited into Rodriguez’s bank account.
“He used money collected from these individuals to benefit himself or ventures related to his union activities,” said Llambelis adding that he was convicted in 1986 on a federal conspiracy charge. Rodriguez was suspended by the Police Dep’t. [N.Y. Times 10/19/00]