NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
April 24, 2002


CUBAN ARRESTED FOR PREYING ON OTHER HISPANICS;
CURRENTLY ON PROBATION, CHARGED WITH SCHEME TO DEFRAUD

A 40-year-old Cuban man was arrested and charged with Scheming to Defraud others after he cheated a number of Clearwater residents out of more than $51,000, having promised them counterfeit immigration papers and other exchanges of property and services for money, none of which he provided, Deputy Chief of Police Dewey Williams announced today.

The suspect, PEDRO ROLANDO FIGUEROA (06-29-61) of 1817 Driftwood Circle in Oldsmar, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on felony charges. The investigation into his actions continues, and additional charges are possible.

According to Case Agent Detective Ramon Cosme, Figueroa targeted the Clearwater Mexican community in his papers-for-money scheme, specifically reaching out to those who lack the proper paperwork to be in the United States.

"He figured that foreign nationals who haven't proper documentation would be reluctant to approach authorities once they realized they had been cheated" Detective Cosme explained. "He preyed on those most vulnerable, believing that The System would work in his favor."

Figueroa, Detective Cosme discovered, is presently on five years probation for a similar scheme for which he was convicted in Tampa in 2000 (TPD Grand Theft Case # 00-505185).

In Clearwater, a number of victims told Detective Cosme a man known to them only as "Jaime" had cheated them out of more than $50,000 over a period of about 30 days last year. The money was given to "Jaime" for documents that were never delivered.

On another occasion in 2000, "Jaime" agreed to sell a person a pickup truck for $13,000. Once the money exchanged hands, "Jaime" promised, the truck and attendant paperwork would be delivered within 10 days. "Jaime" dropped from sight, and the truck was never delivered.

Earlier this month, one of the victims discovered "Jaime" was back in the area, again trying to sell counterfeit immigration documents in Clearwater's burgeoning Mexican community. The victim learned where "Jamie" was staying, and made contact with Clearwater Police.

Detective Cosme learned the man's true identity, and found a number of victims who identified Figueroa as "Jaime." Figueroa was located, interviewed and was jailed Tuesday. "This is another example of how people should be particularly wary of conducting commerce in parking lots, especially if there's no delivery upon payment," Detective Cosme warned.

For additional details regarding this investigation, please contact Public Information Officer Wayne Shelor at (727) 562-4333.

/s/
Dewey Williams
Deputy Chief of Police - Operations