Federal and state investigators are reportedly analyzing employment documents of illegal immigrants who allegedly worked at President Donald Trump's New Jersey golf club, according to their attorney, Anibal Romero.
Anibal Romero, a Newark attorney who represents five undocumented immigrants who say they worked at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, said in an interview Saturday that he met with investigators from the New Jersey state attorney general's office and two FBI agents in November, before the workers began to go public with their stories. -SF Gate
Romero says he turned over fake green cards and Social Security numbers "that supervisors at the golf club allegedly gave one of his clients," a 44-year-old Guatemalan national named Victorina Morales. Romero also produced pay stubs for Costa Rican native Sandra Diaz who now has legal status, but says she was undocumented during her three years of employment at the club.
Romero says he reached out to special counsel Robert Mueller's office since he was afraid to loop in the Justice Department - then headed by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"I wasn’t sure, one, if they’d take me seriously and, two, if this could backfire on my clients," Romero told the NY Daily News.
Mueller’s office, which is separately investigating Trump’s campaign for possible collusion with Russians during the 2016 election, made contact and informed Romero the matter was not within their jurisdiction. -NY Daily News
Mueller's office referred the matter to the FBI, after which an agent in New Jersey called Romero.
"He said to me that he had received a referral from Robert Mueller’s office and that he already knew the specifics and that he wanted to meet with me in person," Romero said, adding that he then met with two agents at a Branchburg, NJ federal office where he outlined the same evidence he had already given the New Jersey Attorney General's office. FBI agents said they would "coordinate" with the New Jersey AG.
"I’m confident that federal and state authorities will conduct a complete and thorough investigation," said Romero.
Morales and Diaz first came forward with their allegations in interviews with The New York Times earlier this month.
Both women allege management at the Trump club knew they were undocumented and set them up with fake work documents.
In Morales’ case, Romero said a supervisor compiled all of her information and then took her photo in the laundry room of the club.
A few days later, the boss — who’s not being named by The News — told Morales he had received her fake documents and said he would hold on to them.
“This was a practice and pattern,” Romero said. “My clients felt like they were trapped and they felt like the fake documents could be used against them.” -NY Daily News
According to Harry Sandick, a former assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York, the undocumented workers may have committed immigration fraud if they knowingly used fake documents - a federal offense which carries prison time, heavy fines and deportation.
Sandick added that the supervisor who allegedly procured the fake documents, and/or anyone else involved in the matter, are subject to being charged with the same crime.
"Immigration crimes are hard to prosecute so the government may see something like this as a possible deterrent case," said Sandick. "To show that even someone who works at the President’s golf club is under the microscope is very impressive and tells you that anyone can be charged."
Romero said that while his clients have not been given any assurances, "They are the victims here."
"Any attempt at charging them would ignore the real problem."