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Cops nab alleged borough scammer in Michigan

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Pedro Guzman, 48, whose address was not known, was arraigned Feb. 20 in Queens Criminal Court on charges of grand larceny and scheme to defraud. If convicted, Guzman faces up to seven years in prison, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown's office said.Guzman was ordered held on $100,000 bail. His next court date is March 4.He was arrested earlier this month in Wayne County, Mich. by NYPD detectives, police said. He fled there after seeing his face in news reports on Jan. 22, Brown said.The DA said Guzman stands accused of exploiting immigrants new to the country."If true, the defendant took advantage of his victims' desperation to line his pockets with their hard-earned cash and should be severely punished," he said.The first of Guzman's three scams began when he met a woman at a shop on 92nd Street and Ditmars Boulevard in March 2003, according to the criminal complaint filed by the DA. When he learned her son was being held at Rikers Island, Guzman posed as a United Nations employee and claimed he had connections to the Queens DA's office and the city Department of Corrections, Brown said.Guzman offered to help get her son out of jail, but said the woman would need money for court fees and other expenses. He scammed her out of more than $15,000, Brown said.Then on July 3, 2007, Guzman posed as a federal agent in order to convince a Corona business owner he had the power to expedite the approval of a liquor license, the DA said. He received $12,900 from the business owner, setting up and canceling several appointments with his purported Liquor Authority connection, then stopped returning the victim's calls, authorities said.Finally in August 2007, Guzman posed as a federal customs agent in order to convince a woman he could expedite her mother's residency process, the DA said. After saying he could arrange for the immigration interview to be conducted in Spanish, Guzman received more than $2,300 from the woman, then began breaking appointments with her, Brown said.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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