Hispanic community leader facing swindling chargesWORTHINGTON — A man who claimed to be an advocate for the Hispanic community is facing felony-level charges for allegedly swindling a man who had come to him for help.
WORTHINGTON — A man who claimed to be an advocate for the Hispanic community is facing felony-level charges for allegedly swindling a man who had come to him for help.
According to a criminal complaint, Lito Robert Ramirez, also known as Roberto Ramirez, 43, of Worthington, is charged with theft by swindle and theft by false representation.
Each is a felony, and each carries a maximum penalty of five years incarceration.
The complaint states the victim contacted the Worthington Police Department about a possible fraud, stating Ramirez was supposed to help him get an attorney for a nephew who needed legal help.
The victim showed an officer three receipts totaling $3,000, dated between August and November of 2010, indicating money given to Ramirez.
Ramirez allegedly told the victim an attorney would charge $4,200 to handle the case and asked for another $1,000, which caused the victim to get suspicious.
The victim allegedly contacted the attorney in question, who has a law office in Le Mars, Iowa.
The attorney allegedly told the victim she had only charged $1,500 for the case, $200 of which was still outstanding.
In early December, the officer contacted the attorney, who said Ramirez came to her office claiming to be an advocate for the Hispanic community.
He allegedly stated he had a client who needed help with an immigration matter.
She accepted the case for a fee of $1,500, she said, and Ramirez made a $1,000 cash payment and later a payment by money order of $300.
The attorney said she had spoken to her client about the matter, and he told her Ramirez was hounding his uncle about wanting more money, claiming the attorney had asked for it.
The attorney allegedly told the officer she did not know how Ramirez would be entitled to collect additional fees relating to her representation of the victim’s nephew.
The complaint states the victim came to the law enforcement center in mid-December and made a controlled phone call with his own cell phone, which was recorded by law enforcement and translated.
During the call, Ramirez allegedly told the victim he gave the attorney $2,500 and his own fee was $750.
In February, the officer spoke with Ramirez, who allegedly said he told the victim if he had to go to Iowa to find an attorney, there would be charges.
He said the victim paid $800 for his services and $1,500 for the attorney, and that the attorney was still owed $500.
Ramirez told the officer he had made five trips to Sioux City or Orange City, Iowa, and that the victim had agreed to pay a total of $2,500 to $4,000 for the attorney and for Ramirez’s help.
According to the Dec. 19, 2006 edition of the Daily Globe, Ramirez moved to Worthington in November 2006 from southern Texas. He stated his goal was to bring the Hispanic community closer to the rest of the community.
Hispanics and undocumented people in Worthington are here to stay, he said shortly after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sweep at the Swift plant earlier that month.
“We’re here. Now if we could get somebody to start uniting us all, that is something I want to be part of,” he stated.
In 2009, Ramirez told the Daily Globe he had started “dabbling in the drug trade” at age 14, and by the time he was 19 he landed in a Louisiana prison on drug charges.
That made him decide he would rather be a productive member of society, he said.
He worked as a dispatcher for an ambulance service, did public relations and worked for attorneys and doctors, he claimed, but still struggled with drug addiction.
He moved his family to Worthington for a change in environment.
By 2007, he had helped found the Nobles County Hispanic Community (NCHC) and became its president. For three months in summer 2009, he served as an honorary councilman on the Worthington City Council.
According to court documents, his theft case will be prosecuted by Cottonwood County Attorney Nick Anderson.
Ramirez has a court appearance scheduled for April 26 at the Prairie Justice Center.