- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Texas man who let over a hundred undocumented immigrants buy their way into a bogus Indian tribe was sentenced this week to nearly three years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen handed down a 33-month sentence Tuesday to Humberto Reveles, a 61-year-old Waco resident who admitted selling memberships to the Yamassee tribe as part of a widespread defrauding scheme operated out of his office in Brownsville.

Posing as the chief, then grand chief of the Yamassee tribe, Revees made nearly $200,000 by selling fake documents to 144 known victims, the Justice Dept. said in a statement.

Reveles opened an office where he would meet with prospective tribe members in addition to holding informational meetings,” prosecutors said. “Prospective tribe members would pay Reveles or his employees and were to receive tribal naturalization certificates, tribal identification cards and tribal drivers’ licenses.”

According to prosecutors, Reveles said the tribal papers allowed otherwise undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the U.S. without risk of deportation.

Separate from the similarly spelled “Yamasee” tribe, the Yamassee is not recognized by the U.S. State Dept. and has no sovereignty in the eyes of the federal government.

A grand jury indicted Reveles on 12 felonies in 2014, and he pleaded guilty the following year to a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

At Tuesday’s sentencing hearing in the federal court in Brownsville, Judge Hanen said the scheme was “just as bad as coyotes smuggling people past the checkpoint,” according to the DOH statement.

Shane Folden, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations division, said such a scheme “creates security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by criminals and others who pose a danger to our community.”

“ICE Homeland Security Investigations will not tolerate actions that mislead the United States and circumvent lawful immigration processes,” he said in a statement.

Reveles, 61, will remain free on bond until December when he’s required to surrender to authorities and begin serving time. His prison stint will be proceeded by three years of supervised release, and Reveles has additionally been ordered to pay back $198,795 in restitution to his 144 victims.

Revele’s accomplice, Maria Isabel Lerma, is set to be sentenced for related charges next month, a local ABC News affiliate reported.

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