VICTIMS of the phony immigration practitioner Ralph Cucciniello who, as the Irish Voice reported last week, claimed to be an immigration lawyer at Yale University, are being asked to come forward if they gave money to Cucciniello for the assurance of legal status in the U.S.
Cucciniello, who charged an upfront fee of $5,000, has a previous criminal record in New York State, but it has come to the attention of the Irish Voice that the bogus lawyer has been arrested numerous other times (the number is still being investigated) in five different states, including Washington, California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It is still unclear if Cucciniello served any time in prison.
The Professional Investigator Network owed by Irish-born private investigator Olwyn Triggs has been working on the Cucciniello case since it first broke. Triggs spoke to the Irish Voice from her office on Monday about the depth of her investigation.
According to her, records Cucciniello has arrests going back as far at 1975. She explained that he was arrested twice, once in Bergen County and once in Paramus, New Jersey in 1975 on fraud charges but the cases were dismissed.
He was found guilty of fraud in Saddle River, New Jersey in 1983 and sentenced to 60 days in prison. It’s unclear whether he served the time or not.
The list continues. One of his most serious convictions occurred in Santa Barbara, California in 2003 where he was found guilty of a felony and sentenced to 36 months probation, 97 days in jail and a fine. At press time, the Irish Voice was unable to determine if the fraudster served time or not.
Triggs also said Cucciniello, who informed his victims that he found a “loophole” in the immigration system, had been using various alias names as a front for his business. To date, over 50 Irish people who have been scammed by the bogus attorney have spoken to Triggs.
“It’s dreadful what this man has done and I know though the victims that have already come forward that there are over 100 Irish people who fell prey to Cucciniello’s scam,” Triggs said.
Triggs has been working closely with Detective Jose Rodriguez, from the NYPD’s 5th Precinct and Assistant District Attorney Douglas Kaufman on the case. Triggs, the DA and the NYPD are asking people to come forward who have paid any sum of money to Cucciniello for the promise of a green card.
“I realize it’s a concern for several undocumented about coming forward but the NYPD are not concerned about the immigration status of any of Cucciniello’s victims,” said Rodriguez, stating that because of an executive order by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg no officer is allowed to question a witness on their immigration status.
“It is essential for victims to come forward on this case, and either myself, the assistant district attorney or Olwyn Triggs will speak to the victims who were scammed on this case.” he said, mentioning that Triggs has been an integral asset to his investigation and he values her counsel highly.
Triggs, who has been working as a private investigator for 15 years, guarantees anonymity and confidentiality to the Irish community and urges people to come forward who have been duped.
“It’s imperative for people who have been victimized to come forward. I’m here to answer any questions people have, they don’t have to give me their names or stories but I will willingly tell them everything I know to date on this guy,” she said.
Cucciniello, whose passport was confiscated by Manhattan Criminal Court on May 1, is due to reappear in court on August 15.
Triggs can be contacted at her office at 516-674-4900. Assistant District Attorney Douglas Kaufman is available at 212-335-4158 and Detective Jose Rodriguez can be contacted at 212-334-0742.