By: Saraana Jamraj
After her arrest for overcharging victims by tens of thousands of dollars, forging signatures, and lying on official government forms, a Coral Springs business owner was sentenced to prison on Wednesday.
Jenny Hernandez, 51, from Parkland owned several businesses in Coral Springs, including Petit Bakery & Café and Immigration Form Center, along with her husband.
In June, the Miami Herald reported that Hernandez pleaded guilty to visa fraud, after running a scheme out of her business offices where she exploited her victims’ desire to move to the United States, for her own financial gain — often overcharging them, lying to officials, and falsifying documents in the process.
At her Coral Springs business, Immigration Form Center, Hernandez charged clients to file Form I-140s with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. I-140 forms typically cost $700 to file and are generally paid for by employers.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, these forms are used by foreign workers to petition becoming permanent resident, applicable when they have worked abroad for a multinational company for at least one year, and their employers plan to assign them a managerial or executive position in the United States.
None of Hernandez’s companies were multinational, nor did she pay for those she was filing on behalf of — instead, she forged the signatures of various multinational executives, unbeknownst to them. Not only were they unaware that she was filing these forms on behalf of them, they also did not make any employment offers to her victims.
Another time, she promised a defendant permanent residency and said they would be an executive or manager at her bakery. Instead, they were only given the task of running a jewelry stand. She charged that victim $64,000.
While filing each form cost her $700, she charged victims much more. For some, charging $14,200 and $50,900 each.
She was prosecuted for just four of these cases, which brought her $147,890 from those alone. She deposited the surplus of money into her business checking account.
Her plea deal included the U.S. attorney agreeing not to prosecute her husband, Joel Ledezma, 65, for any part he might have played.
Hernandez was sentenced to 18 months in prison. On October 17, Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Florida, and Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge at Homeland Security’s Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
A restitution hearing is scheduled for December 18.