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Two charged with violating rules for traveling to Cuba

Published February 23, 2007


MIAMI - Two men were arrested and charged with using fake religious organizations to get thousands of people permission to travel to Cuba, prosecutors said Thursday.

Victor Vazquez and David Margolis began to use nonexistent religious organizations in April 2006 to apply for federal government licenses that would allow U.S. residents to travel to Cuba, U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta said.

The men then provided the licenses to travel agencies, which sold the use of them to more than 4,500 people. Agencies charged travelers about $250 extra for each use of the license, Acosta said.

Vazquez and Margolis each have been charged by federal complaint with one count of conspiring to violate Cuba-related travel regulations. Vazquez was also charged with two counts of lying on applications to obtain religious travel licenses to Cuba. The maximum sentence for each charge is five years.

Their first court appearance was Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale. Margolis was released on a $1.25-million bond. Prosecutors requested that no bond be set for Vazquez, whose pretrial detention hearing began Thursday.

[Last modified February 23, 2007, 00:51:16]

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