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2 arrested in boro green card scam

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Police in Jackson Heights were searching for another man in connection with a separate scam targeting immigrants.Jose Gomez, 48, a district adjudication officer at the Garden City, L.I. office of Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Farid Bouchaib were arrested at Gomez's home on 76th Street after a two-year investigation revealed he took $12,000 to expedite the issuance of a green card, authorities said.The would-be recipient was informing to federal authorities, according to a criminal complaint unsealed by the U.S. attorney's office.In the second case, police in the 115th Precinct were looking Tuesday for another man accused of soliciting money to expedite victims' immigration status.Pedro Guzman, 51, is suspected of approaching people in Jackson Heights on two separate occasions, posing as an immigration officer and offering to help speed the process in exchange for an undisclosed amount of cash. Guzman is not an immigration officer, police said.Police did not know where Guzman lives, but said he drives a red 2000 Ford Explorer with Connecticut license plates.In the federal case, investigators allege Bouchaib, operator of Profile Unisex Hairstyling in Astoria, acted as an intermediary between Gomez and the prospective green card recipient, according to the complaint. Both men face charges of soliciting a bribe.Gomez and Bouchaib had bail hearings before the Eastern District Federal Court in Brooklyn. Gomez was released after posting $150,000 bail, while Bouchaib was released on $500,000 bond.No return date has yet been set. The federal government now has 30 days to indict the duo, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney said.Federal authorities got word of Gomez's activities in November 2005 after the informant contacted Bouchaib about getting a green card, the complaint said. The bribes took place between January 2006 and January 2008, with the informant wearing a wire for most of the exchanges, the complaint said.According to the complaint, Bouchaib drove the informant to Gomez's residence, where Gomez joined them in the car. After receiving $2,500 in cash from the informant, Gomez stepped out of the car, where he was promptly arrested by DHS agents.On his arrest, "Gomez spontaneously stated that 'the crazy guy ... just put the money in my pocket,'" the complaint said.Citing an active investigation, the U.S. attorney's office declined to say whether Gomez is suspected of soliciting any previous bribes.Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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