Attorney General Bill McCollum News Release
November 9, 2007
Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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Attorney General Reaches Agreement with Community Center Over Immigration Concerns

~ Center allegedly offered immigrants improper assistance in securing Canadian residence ~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that his office has reached an agreement with a Naples community center over concerns the center was improperly offering immigrants assistance in obtaining permanent residence in Canada. Representatives with the Jerusalem Haitian Community Center were allegedly claiming they could assist immigrants with gaining entry into Canada and establishing legal residence, but the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division determined that these assertions were flawed and potentially deceptive. The agreement requires the community center and its director, Jacques Sinjuste, to make full restitution within two years to anyone who paid a fee for the center’s services. The center must also dissolve within four months.

“While the state Attorney General’s Office cannot enforce federal immigration law in this case, my office can investigate potentially misleading or deceptive practices, and I believe this organization was engaging in questionable practices,” said Attorney General McCollum. “I am pleased with the resolution we have obtained, which will provide necessary relief to the affected individuals.”

A review of the situation unfolding at the Jerusalem Haitian Community Center revealed the center assisted individuals in the completion of applications for Canadian residency. The center would then direct the applicants to organizations in Detroit and Vermont where they could await entry into Canada. A “donation” of up to $400 per person was charged for these services. Investigators believe approximately 450 people have paid the center for these services over the past two or three years, with as much as $170,000 potentially collected.

The center and Sinjuste provided full cooperation to the Attorney General’s Office throughout the review and has already refunded approximately $32,000 back to affected individuals. In addition to paying full restitution, the center must also reimburse the state for the costs of the investigation.

A copy of the agreement is available online here.