A Southampton woman working in a Water Mill church for a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting immigrants stole nearly $6000 from its clients between 2017 and 2018, according to police.
Maria Sanchez-Dios, 39, used her position at the Water Mill branch of Immigration Legal Services of Long Island, located at the Incarnation Lutheran Church on Montauk Highway, to defraud at least five immigrants seeking help concerning their status in the United States. The three complaints on file at the Southampton Town Justice Court in Hampton Bays state Sanchez-Dios billed unsuspecting immigrants fees for actions the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency does not charge for, then pocketed the money herself. In addition, she charged the alleged victims for services never rendered.
Immigration Legal Services of Long Island, according to its website, assists those seeking citizenship, permanent residency status (green cards), or asylum seekers fleeing persecution status, as well as deferred action status. As a not-for-profit, the website states, it charges below market rate for its
According to the Southampton Town police, who arrested Sanchez-Dios October 1 after questioning her at police headquarters in Hampton Bays, Immigration Legal Services of Long Island contacted the department after officials became suspicious of her actions. Police said the not-for-profit cooperated fully in the investigation and had no role in Sanchez-Dios’s alleged crimes.
It appears Sanchez-Dios made at least a partial confession when she was questioned. She is charged with grand larceny, scheming to defraud, and immigrant assistance fraud — a law written specially to protect the vulnerable immigrant population. All counts are felonies.
She was held overnight and released the next day after being arraigned on $900 bail.