Woodside, Queens, New York City. Photo: Google Maps
Woodside, Queens, New York City. Photo: Google Maps

A 50-year-old Filipino-American woman who runs a business in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens, New York City, has been charged with visa fraud and bringing Filipinos into the United States illegally.

On Monday, Rena Avendula, founder and president of medical-staffing agency Professional Placement and Recruitment Inc, was charged with five counts of visa fraud, Balitang America reported.

Avendula allegedly created bogus nursing jobs between October 2009 and February 2015 to bring Filipinos into the United States illegally through a work-visa program. She also charged beneficiaries US$15,000 if petitions were granted.

In a phone conversation with Balitang America, Avendula said the news about the alleged visa fraud was exaggerated.

According to the US Department of Justice, if convicted, Avendula could face a maximum of 10 years in jail and another 10 years for each person she illegally brought into the US through visa fraud.

Avendula previously owned a Filipino restaurant called Payag, which is now defunct.

She was released on US$75,000 bail.

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