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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Swindler Dresses As Clown On Kiddie Bike To Impersonate Immigration Official

Posted By on Wed, Jul 7, 2010 at 2:45 PM

click to enlarge Oh look! Two immigration officials!
  • Oh look! Two immigration officials!
The evidence is in: To immigrants, there is little difference between an immigration authority and a clown on a kiddie bike.

That was the disguise Frank Salvador Solorza used when impersonating an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official and extorting money from immigrants to purportedly save them from deportation. Solorza was convicted by a federal jury in Oakland last week for impersonating a federal officer (in a clown suit), attempted extortion by a federal official (yep, in a clown suit), and conspiracy.

click to enlarge La Migra!
  • La Migra!
Solorza, 46, of Redwood City, conspired with others to send letters to

six people in which he claimed to be a federal immigration official,

demanding they pay a total of $50,000 to "clear up the immigration

status of each individual," according to the a Department of Justice press release. Solorza threatened those who wouldn't pay with imprisonment and deportation.

Unfortunately for him, the victims instead contacted the real ICE, which

opened an investigation.

Solorza and his crew eventually set a time and place to meet their intended victims. It was easy to spot Solorza -- he was the one in clown attire pedaling a child's bike. This, apparently, is what the con man thought immigrants would expect of an ICE agent on the take. But Bozo ended up looking like a clown; he was arrested. What a sight for the kids that must have been.

In what is perhaps the most rollicking press release ever hailing from

the U.S. Department of Justice, the revelation that Solorza was dressed as a clown

is followed by this quote from U.S. Attorney Joe Russoniello: "This case

shows that the United States will investigate and vigorously prosecute

those who impersonate federal officers. Individuals who cloak themselves

with apparent federal authority in order to victimize vulnerable people

will be brought to justice." Or cloak themselves in big shoes and a

wig.

But the release then tells us to stop clowning around: "While part of

this defendant's deception involved dressing as a clown, his actions are

no laughing matter," said Mark Wollman, special agent in charge of

ICE's office of Homeland Security Investigations. "One of our

enforcement priorities is to target immigration fraud and the swindlers

who prey on innocent individuals in our communities."

Well, we knew ICE wasn't exactly viewed with great respect by

immigrants, but we didn't know their esteem had dropped this low.

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Lauren Smiley

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