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Immigrants hoping to a build a new life in America can easily fall prey to vultures who are willing to exploit their situation. Last week, a Queens judge sentenced three members of a Trinidadian family to 78 to 235 years for taking advantage of their countrymen.

Because of the aggressive work of the Queens district attorney’s office, Shane Ramsundar, 52, his wife Goatee Ramsundar, 48, and their daughter, Shantal Ramsundar, 24, were not only sentenced to prison but the Richmond Hill family was also ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution.

If the punishment for a nonviolent crime seems harsh, consider that this family crushed the dreams of families hoping to make a new start in America.

“This family deviously took advantage of their fellow immigrants as they sought the American Dream,” said District Attorney Richard Brown.

The con artists defrauded 19 people over a six-year period. They stole nearly $2 million. It took the prosecution months to make its case.

We congratulate Brown and his staff for the time and effort to put these people behind bars.

Save the VA Hospital

While people of good intentions may dispute the particulars, there should be no denying that Queens needs a first-class veterans hospital.

There are reportedly 61,000 veterans living in Queens and an additional 68,232 living in Nassau County who would benefit from a full-service veterans hospital. That number could grow with troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a letter to the U.S. Veterans Affairs secretary, U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman wrote that he is concerned the current VA plan “would be inadequate for the burgeoning needs of returning Afghanistan and Iraq veterans.”

A group of Queens residents is using the Internet to send a message to the president to get him to support a measure that would help halt any attempt to break up the St. Albans VA hospital.

It argues that “A VA hospital would provide our vets the much-needed local medical care for traumatic brain injury, PTSD, women’s health issues and other critical problems. They now travel hours to get care.”

Unfortunately, the petition is short of the 25,000 signatures it needs to get on the president’s desk.

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