A Registry of Motor Vehicles worker is accused of taking thousands of dollars from illegal immigrants, promising she could get them drivers' licenses and fix immigration problems, and then threatening to have them deported when they asked for their money back.
After a years-long investigation, Adriana Ferreira was arrested this morning by federal Department of Homeland Security officers and State Police in the Watertown RMV branch where she worked.
The authorities weren't the only ones watching her. FOX Undercover has been watching her for months after a viewer tipped us off.
FOX Undercover's camera was the only one there when she was arrested and then later led out of the State Police barracks in Brighton.
Authorities say she swindled five different victims between 2009 and 2012 but never delivered help with licenses or immigration problems.
Authorities had her under surveillance at one time when she told one of her alleged victims she was meeting with a contact at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, but instead they watched as she ran errands.
ICE says it investigated whether she had an insider helping her but found she actually had no contact with anyone at the agency.
Before she began working for the RMV in August 2010, Ferreira worked for the Massachusetts Trial Court for several years as a clerk in Brighton District Court. She resigned from her court job in 2008, a Trial Court spokesperson said.
She was arraigned this afternoon on 27 charges including corrupt bribery, bribery and larceny by false pretense. The most serious charge, corrupt bribery, which involves a state employee asking for money to commit a fraud, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and she faces 7 counts.
She's charged with swindling five people, but prosecutors say that after her arrest Ferreira admitted to scamming as many as 30 individuals.
She pleaded not guilty at her arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court. She was ordered held on $50,000 cash bail. If she's released, she must agree to conditions including surrendering her passport and wearing a GPS monitoring device.
Statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement:
An employee of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) was arrested this morning in Watertown, Mass. The employee was arrested by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), special agents with ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and Massachusetts State Police detectives.
Adriana Ferreira, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested for numerous violations of Massachusetts law, including corruption, bribery and larceny. She will make an initial appearance in Suffolk Superior Court later today.
In March 2011, special agents with HSI and OPR initiated an investigation into Ferreira. The investigation revealed that Ferreira was using her position at the RMV to defraud illegal aliens. The illegal aliens believed they would receive a driver's license for a fee of $2,000. In this case, it was determined that illegal aliens never received any licenses from the RMV or Ferreira. Ferreira also claimed to have a contact at ICE who had the ability to delay an illegal alien's deportations for a fee.
After an extensive investigation, Ferreira had no interaction or contact with any ICE employees.
The Somerville (Mass.) Police Department also assisted in this investigation. This case is being prosecuted by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.