An Eden Prairie woman was sentenced Thursday to probation for charging immigrants money to fake robberies against them in a scheme to obtain temporary visas.
Yuridia Hernandez Linares, 36, will have to serve three years’ probation and 180 days on electronic home monitoring, an arrangement agreed to in her plea deal. She received 79 days of credit toward the home monitoring for time she’s spent in jail.
Hennepin County District Judge Marta Chou told Hernandez Linares the visas — known as U visas — are designed to ensure that victims feel safe reporting crimes to police despite their immigration status.
“You have a rippling effect of people not going to the police or not being believed,” Chou said.
Hernandez Linares pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of felony theft by swindle. She admitted to taking more than $5,000 from four victims and using a box cutter or sharp object to cut their hands so they could report a crime and obtain a U visa, which is given to noncitizens who are victims of crime.
The faked attacks, which included claims that two men robbed some victims of their purses, were reported last year to Eden Prairie police.
Hernandez Linares and her friend told police in 2015 they were victims of a similar attack; Hernandez Linares requested a U visa in 2016.
Thursday’s hearing began on a rocky note when Chou said that Hernandez Linares had “minimized” her culpability in the crime in the presentence investigation used to guide sentencing.
“The state is concerned that … now she claims she is innocent,” said Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Diane Krenz.
Krenz requested that Hernandez Linares be questioned about the crime again. Through an interpreter, Hernandez Linares admitted to the crime and Chou proceeded with sentencing.
Two victim-impact statement letters were submitted to the judge for consideration but were not read aloud in court.
Hernandez Linares declined to address the court when given an opportunity to speak.
“She’s just so regretful for all of this,” her attorney, Michelle Hayes, said afterward.
Hernandez Linares, a native of Mexico whose husband and four young children live in Minnesota, is not a U.S. citizen and could face deportation as a result of her conviction.