PROVIDENCE – An East Providence businesswoman who allegedly arranged for eight Columbian Vallenato musicians to obtain work visas to enter the United States, purportedly to work in the performing arts industry, has been charged in federal court with visa fraud and aggravated identity theft, announced United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.
It is alleged in documents filed with the court that Yaneth Yanitza Caicedo Grandos, operator of Tu Voz Es Musica (“TVEM”), a music talent school she operates out of her residence, created and provided false itinerary information on work visa applications submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of each of the musicians. Included with each application were contracts on TVEM letterhead that described agreements TVEM had with venues in seven states, including Rhode Island, where the Vallenato musicians were scheduled to perform.
According to information presented to the court, a review by Homeland Security Investigations of the contracts submitted with the visa applications to USCIS revealed discrepancies, including, for example, similar looking signatures on six contracts with five different venues. It is alleged that venue managers/owners whose names and signatures appear on the contracts did not authorize nor endorse the information; and that venue operators confirmed that the Vallenato musicians had not performed nor were scheduled to perform at their respective venues.
As further alleged in court documents, this matter came to the attention of federal authorities when an East Providence resident provided information that Caicedo Grandos restricted the movements of the Columbian musicians, forced them to sleep on the floor of an apartment from which they have since been evicted, attempted to confiscate their passports, and threatened them with immigration consequences.
Yaneth Yanitza Caicedo Grandos, charged by way of a federal criminal complaint with visa fraud and aggravated identity theft, made an initial appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Lincoln D. Almond on Tuesday and was released on unsecured bond.
Work visas issued to eight Vallenato musicians have been revoked by the U.S. Department of State.
A federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee H. Vilker.