DA Vance: Repeat Scammer Convicted at Trial of Targeting Immigrant Job Seekers

April 2, 2018

Jose Panchana Previously Convicted of Stealing Thousands of Dollars Through Fake Employment Fees

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the trial conviction of JOSE LUIS PANCHANA, 41, for stealing hundreds of dollars from victims as part of a job scam that targeted members of immigrant communities. The defendant was convicted by a New York State Supreme Court jury of all of the charges in the indictment against him, including Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree and Petit Larceny, and is expected to be sentenced on April 18, 2018.

“During these fraught times, members of immigrant communities are more vulnerable than ever to fraud and abuse,” said District Attorney Vance. “Regardless of immigration status, I encourage anyone who may have been the victim of fraud to call my Office’s Immigrant Affairs Hotline at 212-335-3600. In this case, the defendant targeted New Yorkers in places that should have been safe spaces, including local employment agencies and salons, as part of a job scam that cost his victims hundreds of dollars. Moreover, this serial scammer has shown that he will go to any length to find new victims whose trust he can exploit for money. Cases like these demonstrate why I have long advocated for common-sense updates to state laws that would allow prosecutors to pursue elevated charges against those who use the same scheme over and over to steal from multiple victims. I thank our partners at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Office of the Inspector General for their assistance with this matter.”

Inspector General for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Michael Nestor said: “The Port Authority Office of Inspector General will continue to work aggressively with our law enforcement partners to identify, arrest and prosecute those who prey on the less fortunate by offering false promises of employment at our facilities.”

As proven at trial, between June and August 2017, PANCHANA falsely represented himself as a hiring manager for jobs at John F. Kennedy Airport and claimed that he was seeking to fill open positions at the airport as part of a job scam targeting members of immigrant communities and Spanish-speaking immigrants, many of whom did not speak English. As part of the scheme, the defendant—a predicate felon who was previously convicted of using the same scam to steal thousands of dollars from other victims—used fake names to conceal his identity while offering his victims job placements in exchange for money, when in fact, the opportunities were nonexistent. In this case alone, the defendant stole more than $1,450 from several victims.

This case represents the defendant’s fourth conviction for Scheme to Defraud for targeting members of the Hispanic community through job-related scams. In previous cases, the defendant stole thousands of dollars from earlier victims by offering them jobs and falsely informing them that their money would be used to pay for uniforms, drug tests, and background checks. However, once PANCHANA received the funds, he disappeared and severed contact with the victims.

Assistant D.A. Ryan Gee handled the prosecution of the case, with the assistance of Assistant D.A. Stephanie Oliva, and under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Gloria Garcia, Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau, Assistant D.A. Archana Rao, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau, and Executive Assistant D.A. Michael Sachs, Chief of the Investigation Division. Paralegal Daniel Elkind, Program Coordinator Adriana Carolina Suarez, Rackets Investigator Maria Coyt-Freda, Senior Rackets Investigators Anthony DiCaprio and Jose Vasquez, Supervising Rackets Investigator Veronica Rodriguez, Former Rackets Investigator Jacob Peterson, Cell Site Analyst Gary Ellis, Computer Forensics Analyst Richard Rojas, and Assistant Supervisor of the Spanish Language Unit Gabriel Mitre also assisted with the case.

District Attorney Vance thanked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Office of the Inspector General, and in particular, Detective John Curnyn, Police Investigator Don Swiatocha, Supervisory Police Investigator Ed Choo, Assistant Director of Investigations Salvatore Dalessandro, and Director of Investigations Steve Pasichow for their assistance with the investigation.

Defendant Information:

Brooklyn, NY

• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
• Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor, 4 counts