Greenwood Man Indicted For Extorting Money From Latino Community - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Greenwood Man Indicted For Extorting Money From Latino Community

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SUSSEX Co., Del. - A Greenwood man accused of extorting thousands of dollars from a Hispanic community over a seven year period, dating back to as early as 2004, has been formally indicted by a Sussex County Grand Jury.

A former middle school and ESL teacher, and a so-called trusted individual in the Hispanic community, 47-year-old Jose Oyola now faces six felony charges including one count of extortion and five counts of theft.

"Many, many thousands of dollars he's defrauded and extorted individuals in this community. That's the worst of extortion that I've seen in a while," Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden said.

Oyola is accused of using his position to target and solicit money from Delaware immigrants. He reportedly offered tax services and promised to secure legal residency and work visas that were never filed.

"He threatened to have them deported if they did not make payment or if they filed a complaint with authorities," Biden said.

In one case, when he found out that a victim had made a complaint, he reportedly sent the victim's immigration status to her employer, causing her to lose her job.

In another scheme, Oyola allegedly collected a $1,500 fee to secure housing for a victim through Habitat for Humanity. That housing was never provided.

Amounts paid by victims ranged from less than $100 to more than $5,000.

Claudia Pena Porretti is the Executive Director of La Esperanza in Georgetown - a non-profit organization that works to educate and support the integration of Hispanic immigrants. She tells WMDT this type of criminal activity is nothing new.

"We hear stories every day. Unfortunately our population is vulnerable. But regardless of your immigration status, there are rights. You have rights," she said.

Rights the Attorney General's office is promising to protect.

"I bet there are more victims out there. We encourage them to come to us," Biden said.

Delaware State Police arrested Oyola on April 18. He posted bail and was released. Officials say he'll face a judge for his arraignment in the next several days with a trial date to follow. If he's convicted, he faces up to 15 years behind bars. Prosecutors say they are looking for restitution, but the amount has not yet been determined.

Officials say Oyola is not a citizen, but a legal resident of Sussex County. He's originally from Peru. During the investigation he was working at Woodbridge Middle School and served as a coordinator for the English as a Second Language program sponsored by Sussex Tech Adult Education. He held ESL classes at Woodbridge Middle and the Bridgeville Head Start office.

Anyone who may have additional information about this case is asked to call 1-800-220-5424.

La Esperanza can be reached at 302-854-9262. For more information, click here.

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