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NEW YORK (AP) — A Maryland man who posed as a diplomat from the Dominican Republic to solicit donations for a bogus charitable project admitted on Monday it was a scam.

Francisco Alberto Gautreaux Calcano pleaded guilty on Monday to grand larceny and scheming to defraud, prosecutors said.

He “preyed upon the generosity of immigrants who wanted to help fellow Dominicans in need,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement.

Calcano, 43, solicited donations to transport utility vehicles to the Dominican city of Salcedo, but the vehicles didn’t exist, prosecutors said.

The Frederick, Md., man falsely told some victims he was a Dominican embassy staffer, prosecutors said, and claimed to be former Dominican Ambassador to the United States Roberto B. Saladin, who now represents his country at the Organization of American States.

Calcano collected a total of more than $15,000 from victims who included the brother of Salcedo’s mayor; a Salcedo city official; a Bronx restaurant manager; and an orphanage in La Vega, Dominican Republic, that donated to the shipment of what proved to be a nonexistent bus, prosecutors said.

New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat became suspicious and called authorities after Calcano contacted his office, according to prosecutors.

Calcano is due to be sentenced Sept. 4. His lawyer didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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