Doctor Admits Scheme to Change Immigrants’ Fingerprints

Stewart Bishop, Boston Globe, February 11, 2011


Jose Elias Zaiter-Pou [a Dominican], 62, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston following a government sting operation in which he met with an informant in a Woburn hotel and agreed to surgically alter the informant’s fingerprints in exchange for $4,500, US District Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a statement.

Luz Martinez-LeBron, 42, of Puerto Rico, and Ricky Baez-Cruz, 29, of the Dominican Republic, were also charged in the scheme, according to Christina DiIorio-Sterling, the US attorney’s spokeswoman.

During the July meeting at the Red Roof Inn, secretly audio- and videorecorded by law enforcement officials, Zaiter-Pou described to the informant how he would surgically remove a portion of the fingerprint and then suture the tip back, resulting in a new, unrecognizable print, Ortiz said. Zaiter-Pou brought surgical equipment, as well as antibiotics and drugs for anesthesia to the hotel, she said. During the meeting, the informant stated a desire to have the procedure performed to avoid jail and deportation, according to court documents.

According to court documents, Martinez-LeBron contacted potential clients and worked with Zaiter-Pou to set up meetings where the doctor would perform the surgery. Baez-Cruz, a former client of Zaiter-Pou’s who underwent the fingerprint surgery, attended meetings to give testimonial about the procedure’s success, the documents said.

US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock sentenced Zaiter-Pou to 12 months and one day in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Woodlock also ordered Zaiter-Pou deported to the Dominican Republic after he serves his time, Ortiz said.


Jose Elias Zaiter-Pou (right) explains the fingerprint altering procedure and the surgical tools brought to the meeting in July.


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