- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) - A Rhode Island woman is headed to prison after pleading guilty in a scheme in which she defrauded immigrants out of more than $700,000 by falsely promising to provide documents that would allow them to legally live in the United States.

Federal prosecutors say 53-year-old Patria Zuniga, of Woonsocket, was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison Monday in Worcester (WUS’-tur), Massachusetts. She pleaded guilty earlier this year to eight counts of wire fraud.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office says Zuniga preyed on immigrants - including some from the Worcester area - without lawful status or temporary legal status in the country for three years beginning in 2009.

Zuniga said she could help them obtain permanent resident immigration status, and threatened them with deportation if they didn’t pay.

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