Fugitive Who Posed As Lawyer Following Haitian Earthquake Jailed

News Americas, BURLINGTON, Vt., Mon. June 20, 2011: A 34-year-old wanted man, who was captured after an international manhunt led by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations has been jailed for alien smuggling.

Jorge Torres will spend the next three years and one month in federal prison after pleading guilty to the charges. Torres was already a fugitive when he was indicted in 2003 by a federal grand jury in Burlington, Vt., on charges of conspiring to smuggle aliens from Central America into the United States through Canada in 2002.

At the time of his indictment, he was living in Canada under the name “George Simard” after he absconded from federal supervised release following a 1999 bank fraud conviction.

Starting in 2003, the U.S. government sought Torres’ extradition from Canada to face the alien smuggling charges. However, he could not be
located.

In early 2010, Torres surfaced in the Dominican Republic posing as a lawyer representing American church workers detained in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake in that country. Torres convinced a church that he was Jorge Torres Puello, an international lawyer and president of “Puello Consulting” in the Dominican Republic.

Torres obtained a monetary retainer from the families of the detained missionaries and began representing himself to the Haitian court and international media as the attorney/spokesman for them. However, U.S. authorities recognized him as Jorge Torres when media reports showed images of the “alleged” lawyer wearing a suit and carrying a brief case.
An extradition package was prepared and sent to representatives in the Dominican Republic. Torres was arrested, detained and extradited to the United States to face the 2003 alien smuggling charges in Vermont. He pleaded guilty to the charges.

At the June 15 sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge William K. Sessions referred to Torres’ lack of regard for court orders as “egregious.” The court credited Torres with 20 months served because he had previously been in custody in Canada and the Dominican Republic. Torres was also sentenced to a two-year term of supervised release.