- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2006

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — A half-dozen illegal aliens are suing the Salvation Army and two of its former local officials on charges of consumer fraud, saying the leaders took their money under false promises of helping them gain legal status.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in state Superior Court, says the Rev. Enoc Tito Sotelo told his mostly Hispanic congregation at Plainfield’s Salvation Army church that he would help them become Americans if they each paid $4,000 and donated $500 to the church.

Gilberto Garcia, an attorney for the aliens, said Mr. Sotelo and Jorge Sancho, a Salvation Army captain assigned to the Christian organization’s Bound Brook office, used the agency’s reputation to harm his clients. The Salvation Army should have known what the men were doing, Mr. Garcia said.

Trish Pelligrini, a spokeswoman for the Salvation Army’s New Jersey chapter, said that Mr. Sotelo was fired in April and that Mr. Sancho was dismissed in November.

The lawsuit says the plaintiffs — five men and one woman from Latin America — were told that they had been “chosen by God” to be sponsored by the Salvation Army for legal permanent residency.

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