An illegal immigrant admitted Tuesday to coercion and enticement of a minor and to illegally reentering the United States, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Juan Carlos Morales-Pedraza, 34, of Paterson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler to coercion and enticement of a minor and of illegally re-entering the United States after having previously been deported, according to a statement released by the Department of Justice.
Morales-Pedraza was deported in 2010, federal officials said.
Morales-Pedraza admitted that he is a citizen of Mexico and that he illegally entered the United States after having previously been deported.
In April 2019, Morales-Pedraza approached a 15-year-old girl in Passaic County, New Jersey. Two days later, after engaging in sexual intercourse with the victim, Morales-Pedraza and the victim left New Jersey and began traveling to Illinois.
An Ohio state trooper pulled the deportee over in Lucas County for failing to yield, authorities said at the time.
“There was that feeling that something wasn’t right,” Sgt. Ivan Nunez told WTOL11.
Police said Morales-Pedraza was ‘overly friendly’ during the stop and the girl lied about her age.
Troopers then discovered the girl had been reported missing.
Detectives determined that Morales-Pedraza “forced the girl to perform acts on him,” the Ohio Highway Patrol said in a statement.
The girl was brought to a local hospital before eventually being reunited with her family, authorities in New Jersey said.
Morales-Pedraza was also brought back to New Jersey, where a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Newark indicted him on charges of kidnapping, illegal transportation of a minor and illegally re-entering the U.S. as a removed alien.
Morales-Pedraza, who has been detained since the incident, took a plea deal from the government rather than face trial.
As part of the deal, federal authorities dropped the kidnapping and illegal transportation charges, allowing Morales-Pedraza to plead guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor and re-entering the country.
The count of coercion and enticement carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and mandatory restitution. The count of illegal re-entry carries a maximum prison sentence of two years and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler scheduled sentencing for July 14.
Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy
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IG Audit shows nonprofit wasted $17 million taxpayer dollars on hotels to not house illegal foreign nationals
An audit report by the Inspector General shows enraging information as to exactly how millions of dollars from the American people were completely wasted.
One doesn’t need to read past the IG report’s headline to become furious: “ICE Spent Funds on Unused Beds, Missed COVID-19 Protocols and Detention Standards while Housing Migrant Families in Hotels.”
In summary, an unbelievable $17 million was wasted on not housing illegal foreign nationals. At the heart of the story is Endeavors, a nonprofit which has received half a billion dollars in taxpayer money “through no-bid government contracts to house foreign nationals who illegally entered the U.S. and were released by the Biden administration instead of being deported” reports The Center Square.
The audit evaluated the process used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to grant no bid contracts to Endeavors and their compliance with federal law, the article explains.
The report evaluated an $86.9 million sole source contract first awarded to Endeavors earlier this year. The contract was awarded for six months to provide “temporary shelter and processing services for families who have not been expelled and are therefore placed in immigration proceedings for their removal from the United States,” The Center Square previously reported.
Months after it received its first no bid contract, Endeavors received a second $530 million contract and hired former Biden administration official Andrew Lorenzen-Straight as its senior director for migrant services and federal affairs, Axios reported.
The Center Square explains:
Sole source contracts are used when an agency can demonstrate the contract meets specific and justified criteria. If contracts don’t meet one of the criteria, they must be awarded through an open competitive process.
Endeavors has no professional history of providing housing services and has never provided beds or all-inclusive emergency family residential services, OIG auditors found. Those critical of DHS’ contract process argue the agency should be awarding contracts through an open competitive process to ensure that those bidding for funds can offer the services they claim they can provide.
Under the contract in question, for six months between March and September 2021, Endeavors was responsible for providing 1,239 beds and other necessary services in hotels. It used six hotels and repurposed them as Emergency Family Reception Sites to accommodate families staying less than three days while ICE considered conditions of release, including alternatives to detention.
The IOG made four recommendations for ICE to improve its contracting and oversight of hotel facility management and operations. “ICE concurred with one recommendation and didn’t concur with three. Based on information ICE provided in its response, the IOG said it considered one recommendation resolved and closed, and three recommendations administratively closed.”
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