Doctor convicted in fingerprint-scrambling scheme

Stewart Bishop|The Boston Globe

Video images from the US attorney show Jose Elias Zaiter-Pou (right) explaining the fingerprint altering procedure and the surgical tools brought to the meeting in July.

A Dominican doctor was sentenced to prison yesterday after he admitted that he conspired to help conceal the identity of illegal immigrants from law enforcement officials by altering patient fingerprints, authorities said.

Jose Elias Zaiter-Pou, 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.

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