Investigators are looking for potential additional victims to come forward after an Upland man accused of running a fraudulent immigration services business for more than 10 years was hit with additional charges on Tuesday, officials said.
Augusto “Tito” Gonzalez De La Cruz, 57, now faces a total of 36 felony counts of grand theft after 16 new counts were filed in an amended complaint, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Gonzalez De La Cruz pleaded not guilty to the new charges on Tuesday, according to the DA’s office.
Prosecutors allege he stole more than $400,000 from clients who believed he would help them with immigration paperwork including visa processing, obtaining resident alien cards and citizenship petitions. But the paying customers never received the services he promised, authorities said.
After officials announced charges involving 15 victims who lost $183,000 over the fake services, another 20 accusers called in to a hotline set up by Azusa police, resulting in the amended complaint, the DA’s office said.
The alleged criminal activity took place between January 2006 and February 2018, according to prosecutors.
Gonzalez De La Cruz has been in custody since Feb. 8, according to inmate records, and on Tuesday his bail was raised to $870,000.
The defendant is expected to return to court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 13.
If convicted as charged, he could face up to 25 years in state prison, officials said.
The Azusa Police Department is continuing to investigate the case.
Anyone who believes they may have been scammed by Gonzalez De La Cruz can contact investigators at 626-812-3227.