Multiple Counts In An Ongoing Conspiracy Must Be Sentenced As A Single Event
- March 16, 2014
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Vereli Sotelo was charged with five counts of theft by deception (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4) and conspiracy to commit theft by deception (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2) and convicted of multiple counts of theft by deception for her part in a scheme involving green cards. Vereli and her husband Tito used Tito’s respected position within the salvation army to communicate to Hispanic members of the congregation how he could obtain them residency cards quickly through an attorney in Miami. Tito charged $4,000 per green card plus a donation to the church. He told people the money was being forwarded to immigration for processing. The Defendant and another woman were present to collect and count the money when people visited Tito to avail themselves of his offer. Vereli would accompany Tito to Florida for meetings with the lawyer. At some point, the parishioners began to receive letter indicating their applications had been received and the information within those letters had been falsified to include Florida addresses and describing their educational levels as including advanced degrees. Ultimately the story reached the media and, even then, the defendant maintained to parishioners that Tito was not operating a fraudulent scheme and the arrival of the residency papers would prove it. When the Union County Prosecutor’s office brought the matter of State v. Sotelo to trial, the defendant was convicted and received an aggregate term of 6 years in prison including a single 3 year term on one count, a consecutive 3 year term on another 3 counts and a concurrent 3 year term on a final count. Defendant appealed on several points, most of which were affirmed, but the appellate division did find that all acts performed by the defendant were part of a general and unified plan and therefore should be sentenced as a single act of conspiracy and remanded for sentencing appropriately. Theft, including theft by deception, charges can result in substantial penalties including up to 10 years in prison for second degree theft. If you are facing charges for shoplifting, theft or theft by deception, you should immediately consult the advice of experienced criminal defense counsel. For more information regarding theft, extortion, shoplifting, forging prescription blanks, receiving stolen property or other crimes in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.