Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Officials say former Miss Bolivia hired illegal immigrants

MESA, Ariz. A former Miss Bolivia being charged with immigration fraud and perjury is now being accused of hiring illegal immigrants to work as servants in her Paradise Valley mansion.

Agents with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided Sonia Falcone's home and a condominium on February 18th.

Officials say she obtained a green card through marriage fraud and that she lied under oath on an application for citizenship.

Officials say the new allegations aren't charges, but the government wants to use the evidence against her at trial.


Her Republican husband:

The Arms Dealer Next Door
International billionaire, French prisoner, Angolan weapons broker, Arizona Republican. Who is Pierre Falcone?

The key player in a huge scandal that has tarnished some of France’s best-known politicians, Falcone is still expected to stand trial later this year for his role in the sale of half a billion dollars worth of Eastern European weapons to Angola. He obtained his release only after paying a $15 million bail, turning over his passport to the court, and accepting severe restrictions on his movements and activities.

Falcone was initially charged with illegal arms dealing because he allegedly brokered the Angola sales without authorization from the French government agency that reviews weapons exports, but prosecutors later dropped that count due to a legal technicality. He remains accused of bribing numerous prominent parties to further his arms business—most notably Jean-Christophe Mitterand, son of ex-President Francois Mitterand—and of failing to pay tens of millions of dollars in taxes on profits from the Angola deals, legal or not.

Though largely unreported, the man at the center of “Angolagate,” as the French press has dubbed the scandal, has extensive American ties. Falcone’s primary residence is a mammoth estate in Paradise Valley, Arizona, where he and his wife, Sonia, a former Miss Bolivia International, are active in political and community affairs. Falcone’s American activities range from advising a major U.S. oil company to teaming with a Virginia-based arms dealer who has worked for both the CIA and Saddam Hussein. What’s more, a floundering health and beauty company run by Sonia Falcone made a controversial $100,000 donation to the Republican Party during the 2000 presidential campaign.

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