BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) — A Texan who appointed himself an Indian chief and sold undocumented immigrants memberships to his tribe was sentenced Monday to 33 months in federal prison.
Humberto Reveles, 61, of Waco, defrauded 144 victims of $198,000 through sale of memberships and tribal identification cards for the Yamassee tribe, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
The tribe is not recognized by the federal government, so it has no sovereignty or reservation land to govern, as recognized tribes do.
Groups in Georgia and California also claim to be descended from the tribe.
Now extinct, the Yamasee were a multiethnic group of Indians who spoke a common language and lived in coastal Georgia and northeastern Florida, according to historians.
Reveles spelled the name of his tribe slightly differently and preyed upon immigrants eager to legitimize their status in the United States.
"Reveles opened an office where he would meet with prospective tribe members in addition to holding informational meetings. Prospective tribe members would pay Reveles or his employees and were to receive tribal naturalization certificates, tribal identification cards and tribal drivers' licenses. The documents were to be presented in support of the false immigration claims underlying the scheme," prosecutors said in a statement.
A federal grand jury in October 2014 indicted Reveles on 12 felony counts, including mail fraud and two counts of impersonating a diplomat.
He pleaded guilty in March 2015 to one count: conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen allowed Reveles to remain free on bond and ordered him to surrender to authorities in Waco on Dec. 8.