From her Montebello home, Romina Aida Zadorian told her immigrant clients she could help them quickly process their visa applications and help their families petition to immigrate to the U.S.
She said she had special government connections, prosecutors said. Some thought she was an attorney.
Los Angeles County prosecutors say it was all a scam. Zadorian, 48, authorities say, charged her clients for services she never delivered, eventually pocketing $630,817 from 82 victims.
Now, she faces 112 felony counts, including 91 counts of grand theft, according to the district attorney's office. She was also charged with residential burglary, forgery, criminal threats, extortion and dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. She has pleaded not guilty.
If convicted, Zadorian faces up to 60 years in state prison. She is being held on $1.2-million bail.
Investigators had already built a case against her last year, when she was first charged in the scam. After the news of her arrest spread in October, 49 more alleged victims came forward.
Prosecutors say Zadorian operated the scheme between September 2014 and October 2017. She's accused of pretending to provide services by filing inapplicable immigration forms with immigration authorities. She then collected payments for the bogus services, officials said.
This isn't the first time Zadorian targeted immigrants for financial gain. She was convicted in 2009 of several counts of grant theft and sentenced to 10 years in state prison for bilking more than 100 clients out of money in exchange for promises of legal status.
For five years, Zadorian pretended to be an attorney for an immigration consulting business in Montebello and told clients she could help them get residency, citizenship and work permits.
After collecting fees of $6,000 to $20,000 from clients, Zadorian would file improper documents on their behalf.