|By KATIE MILANI & LAURA D’ANGELOA New York City travel agent was sentenced on Tuesday to up to 13 years in prison after admitting to scamming fellow Dominican travelers on tickets back home.
Cecilia Suarez, a 55-year-old immigrant and Dominican citizen who worked freelance was charged with grand larceny, identity theft and scheme to defraud and pleaded guilty. In Manhattan Supreme Court.
“I did not have any bad intentions,” said Suarez, a non-English speaker, through an interpreter. “I did not take money from my pocket, however I knew it was wrong.”
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. accused Suarez of charging customers for round-trip tickets and only produced one-way tickets if any at all.
The scheme, which took place between January and September 2012, took over 30 victims and $20,000, along with unauthorized use of credit cards to pay for other customer’s tickets.
Suarez’s lawyer read a statement, which said that Suarez had “every intent to refund the money.
Suarez sent the judge, Judge Michael R. Sonberg, a letter in Spanish. Sonberg said, “My Spanish is good enough to read signs on the subway.” He did however apologize for not making the effort to read it
Sonberg reprimanded her for her actions, and scolded Suarez for leaving people stuck in the Dominican Republic without tickets and causing them to miss work and school.
“More than using someone’s credit card, whether you mismanage your finances is not the point,” said Sonberg.
He said Suarez’s actions were “almost a Ponzi scheme” and that her “sentence is a fair one.”
He also said that he hopes, once her sentence is complete, that the immigration office does not let her stay in the United States, since we already have enough crime here.