A series of recently reported armed robberies in Eden Prairie have been determined to be false reports, according to a new statement from the city’s police chief. And a new court document charging one of the alleged victims states that the false reports were made by undocumented immigrants in an attempt to obtain US visas based on their status as alleged crime victims.
Chief Greg Weber of the Eden Prairie Police Department (EPPD) released a statement on Tuesday stating that after investigating over the last month, the department has determined that three recent reports of armed robberies reported to have taken place between August and October were false reports and did not occur, and that they are connected to a woman who also reported an armed robbery in that city in 2015, a report also determined to have been false. A linked Hennepin County criminal complaint details a scheme by the alleged victims to obtain US visas under false pretenses by making false police reports.
Yuridia Hernandez Linares, the woman who made the report of an armed robbery in Oct. 2015, said that she and her friend had been approached on a walking path by black men with knives, and that they were cut and their purses stolen. Following the robbery report, Hernandez Linares applied for a “U visa,” which the US Citizen and Immigration Services website states is set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and who are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. The U visas are intended to help victims of human trafficking and battered immigrant women. A letter about the visa request was received by the EPPD and the police chief signed off on it.
Subsequent to the three more recent robbery reports, investigators noticed that the cases were very similar to each other and to the 2015 case involving Hernandez Linares, which led them to investigate further. All of the victims were undocumented Latinos, and the suspects were described similarly in the cases. Additionally, the alleged victims each presented at the hospital with “clean superficial cuts” of approximately the same length, and only one injury per victim.
Investigators obtained information from the victims, and subsequently through their phones, that connected them to Hernandez Linares. Interviews with the alleged victims revealed that they all had been working with Hernandez Linares and admitted to making false police reports. They stated that they paid Hernandez Linares a total of $5,000 because she told them that she knew how they could obtain “papers,” or U visas, by “faking an assault” and making police reports. Two of the alleged victims said that Hernandez Linares cut them with a box cutter before the false report. The two other alleged victims said that she cut them with a sharp object after numbing their skin. The alleged victims said they were afraid of Hernandez Linares who told them they would go to jail if they told anyone.
Hernandez Linares, 36, has been charged in with one felony count of theft by swindle. She made an initial court appearance on Nov. 15 where she requested an interpreter and was granted a public defender, according to court records. Hernandez Linares remains in custody in Hennepin County Jail on $25,000 bail with conditions or $100,000 without conditions. She’s scheduled to make her next court appearance on Dec. 16. No information was made available about the other alleged victims and whether they will be charged with reporting false crimes.
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