Gabriela Rosa, a Democratic state assemblywoman from Manhattan, pleaded guilty Friday to charges that she had entered into a sham marriage to get citizenship and had committed bankruptcy fraud, effectively destroying her political career in Albany.
Rosa, 47, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Dominican Republic who was elected in 2012 to represent the 72nd Assembly district covering Washington Heights and Inwood, now faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. She also could be fined $250,000 fine.
Manhattan federal judge Denise Cote accepted Rosa's guilty plea to a two count federal criminal information which prosecutors said was the result of plea negotiations between the defendant and the government. Under federal sentencing guidelines Rosa faces between 12 to 18 months in prison when she is sentenced in October. She remained free on a $100,000 bond.
"I want the people to really see that I didn’t do anything wrong in terms of my legislative duties and as an elected official," Rosa said to reporters outside of the Manhattan courthouse. "This is something that happened in my personal life way before I became an elected official. I never abused my position. I never abused my office."
Rosa is the latest in a growing line of Albany politicians brought down by wrongdoing. As part of her plea agreement, Rosa had to resign her Assembly seat and was barred from holding public office in which U.S. citizenship was a requirement. Her term would have normally ended on December 31st. Assembly officials didn't return telephone calls for comment about the timing of her resignation.
Her long blond hair pulled back into a tight bun secured by an elastic head band, Rosa appeared downcast and contrite as she admitted to her fraudulent activity, all of which predated her 2012 election to the Assembly. Rosa told Cote that her 1986 marriage to a man only identified in court papers as "Spouse-1" was a sham carried out only to help her get law permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. Rosa paid $8,000 for the marriage, which she ended in 1999, the information document states.
While in the sham marriage, Rosa continued her pre-existing relationship with a man who became her husband, identified only as "Spouse-2" in court papers. Rosa perpetuated the fraud by falsely representing in numerous filings with federal immigration officials that she had a bona fide marriage to Spouse-1, according to the information. Neither man was charged.
Rosa also admitted that she committed bankruptcy fraud in 2009 when she filed a Chapter 11 petition. Rosa sought to liquidate over $30,000 in credit card and personal loans by omitting her ownership in a cooperative apartment, not disclosing money she received in political consulting fees and failing to disclose Spouse-2 income, the charges stated. Rosa was discharged in bankruptcy in 2010, court records noted.