A 73-year-old Koreatown resident could get up to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to taking part in immigration fraud and labor trafficking scheme reports the Los Angeles Times.
Maria De Leon is owner and operator of Liberty Legal Document Services. She admitted to helping Kingdom of Jesus Christ out of the Philippines to perpetrate sham marriages and whose victims were forced to solicit donations to the church in the U.S. to finance the lavish lifestyles of church leaders.
According to ABC-CBN, she is one of nine people, including Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, accused of using church members to work in the bogus charity organization.
A statement from the U.S. Attorneys’ office said she pled guilty to “participating in a conspiracy to violate US immigration laws by preparing and filing fraudulent documents that sought legal permanent residency and citizenship for members of a Philippines-based church who allegedly worked as fundraisers for a bogus charity operated by the church.”
The church continues to deny the allegations and says De Leon is not even a member of the church.
“They picked out someone that probably shouldn’t have been indicted anyway … and it wasn’t for a fraudulent purpose, she may believe it was and what she was charged with and not the way it turned out,” said Kingdom of Jesus Christ lawyer Michael Green to ABS CBN.
Citing the federal indictment, Rappler reports church workers were known as “full-time miracle workers.” They were moved around the United States to fundraise nearly everyday for the church. The 2021 indictment also charges Quiboloy, De Leon, and seven others in an alleged sex trafficking scheme. Girls and young woman were forced to have sex with Quiboloy, prosecutors charged.
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