A man accused of operating a phony immigration services business and duping customers out of about $400,000 was charged Tuesday with 16 additional felony counts of grand theft.
Augusto “Tito” Gonzalez De La Cruz, 57, of Upland, was charged earlier this year with 20 felony grand theft counts for allegedly scamming customers by offering immigration services they never received.
De La Cruz pleaded not guilty to the charges, which now involve 35 alleged victims, some of whom were identified with the help of a telephone hotline set up by the Azusa Police Department, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
De La Cruz allegedly made false promises that included expediting the processing of visas, resident alien cards and citizenship petitions, according to Deputy District Attorney Ryann Gerber Jorban.
He was arrested Feb. 8 by Azusa police and has remained behind bars since then.
His bail was increased to $870,000 as a result of the latest charges.
De La Cruz is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Sept. 13, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to allow the case against him to proceed to trial.
If convicted as charged, he could face up to 25 years in state prison, according to the District Attorney’s Office.