An Orlando woman, Orquidea Quezada, 48, faces 49 counts of wire fraud and one count of acting as an unlicensed money transmitter after allegedly utilizing a scheme to avoid taxes when paying workers.
Many of the workers were illegal immigrants, according to a news release from the Middle District of Florida Department of Justice.
The release states Quezada could face up to 20 years in prison per fraud charge and, according to a news release, she made about $870,000 from the alleged scheme. The United States intends to seek forfeiture in that amount, the release states.
Quezada was arrested Saturday by special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and local law enforcement.
The allegations against Quezada are that she, operating as Orquicely Construction, LLC, applied for workers’ compensation insurance policies to cover two to seven employees and an annual payroll of about $10,000. Then, she proceeded to allegedly rent the insurance policies to numerous subcontractors who employed hundreds of workers — many of them illegal aliens.
Quezada allegedly directed her insurance agent to email the subcontractors a certificate that implied that the workers would be covered by insurance. The subcontractors paid Quezada payroll checks, and she allegedly cashed them and paid the subcontractors’ employees in cash, funneling $17.4 million to them over a period between May 2013 and November 2015.
According to the news release, Quezada allegedly did not take taxes out of what she was paying the workers. Her scheme “allowed the subcontractors to avoid these taxes and workers’ compensation taxes, and to conceal their employment of undocumented aliens that were working illegally in the United States,” according to the release.
The indictment isn’t a declaration of guilt — instead, it’s merely a formal charge that a defendant has violated federal laws.
“Every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty,” the release states.