Prosecutors allege Elena Rivas, owner of Interamericana Unlimited, and three of her employees illegally accepted money for services without a written contract, did not provide detailed receipts for services, failed to post a required notice that they were not attorneys and provided services without being properly bonded and registered with the California secretary of state.
Rivas, 65, is charged with three misdemeanors and faces up to six months in jail for each count, according to prosecutors. Her employees — Marta Rivera, Sara Guevara and Maria Valencia — are each charged with a single misdemeanor.
“The laws are set up to make sure that some of our most vulnerable residents receive adequate advocacy,” said deputy district attorney Garner Morris. “This is important work, and it needs to be done legally and right. In many cases, their ability to live and work and raise family depend on it.”
Rivas operated her business out of three locations in San Francisco, Concord and San Jose.
An investigation by the Notario Fraud Unit of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office found that Rivas had an active immigration bond, as required by state law, but had the actual work done by nonbonded immigration consultants, according to prosecutors. Client forms were allegedly completed by the nonbonded consultants but signed by Rivas as if she had prepared them.
In one case, prosecutors said, a Santa Clara County immigrant’s paperwork was mishandled by Rivas and her employees, which resulted in him being stranded in Mexico, away from his wife.