EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An East Providence businesswoman who reportedly arranged for eight Colombian immigrants to obtain phony work visas has been charged with fraud, according to U.S. District Attorney Zachary Cunha.
Court documents reveal that Yaneth Yanitza Caicedo Grandos, owner of a music talent school called Tu Voz Es Musica, created and provided fake itinerary information on work visa applications submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The paperwork she submitted included contracts that described agreements her school had with venues in seven states where the immigrants, who Cunha described as Vallenato musicians, were scheduled to perform.
In reality, prosecutors said none of the immigrants were scheduled to perform at any of the venues.
The investigation began after detectives received a tip that Caicedo Grandos had mistreated the immigrants by forcing them to sleep on the floor of an apartment, restricting their movements and threatening them with deportation if they protested, according to Cunha.
Prosecutors said investigators immediately noticed the paperwork discrepancies and reached out to the various venues regarding the performers.
Caicedo Grandos has been charged with visa fraud and aggravated identity theft. She has since been released on an unsecured bond.
The work visas issued to the musicians have been revoked.