Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Feds Bust Philippine KOJ Church
By News Release @ 1:14 AM :: 3821 Views :: Law Enforcement, Religion

Three Administrators of Philippine Church Arrested in Immigration Fraud Case Related to Workers Brought to U.S. to Fundraise

News Release from US DoJ, January 29, 2020

LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities this morning arrested three top administrators of a Philippines-based church on federal charges of participating in an immigration fraud scheme that brought church members to the United States to work as fundraisers, and then arranged sham marriages and other illegal mechanisms to keep high-performing workers in the country.

A federal criminal complaint alleges that representatives of the church the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC) obtained visas for church members to enter the U.S. by claiming, for example, they would be performing at musical events. But, once the church members arrived in the United States, they were required to surrender their passports and work long hours as “FTWs” (full-time workers, who were also called “miracle workers”), who solicited donations for a church non-profit called the Children’s Joy Foundation USA (CJF). While the workers raised funds by telling donors their money would benefit impoverished children in the Philippines, the complaint alleges that most or all of the money raised was used to finance KOJC operations and the church leader’s lavish lifestyle.

The criminal complaint charges three defendants who are described as the main administrators of KOJC in the United States. They are:

Guia Cabactulan, 59, the top KOJC official in the United States who maintained direct communication with KOJC leadership in the Philippines;
Marissa Duenas, 41, who allegedly handled fraudulent immigration documents for KOJC workers and secured the passports immediately after workers entered the U.S.; and
Amanda Estopare, 48, who allegedly handled the financial aspects of the KOJC enterprise, including enforcing fundraising quotas for KOJC workers.

Cabactulan and Duenas were arrested this morning at a KOJC compound in Van Nuys, where they lived. They are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana. Estopare was arrested in Virginia.

In conjunction with this morning’s arrests, federal agents executed search warrants at the KOJC compound in Van Nuys, the CJF office in Glendale, and three other locations in the Los Angeles area. Searches were also conducted at two locations linked to KOJC in Hawaii, and agents fanned out across the United States to interview witnesses as part of a larger investigation into the organization.

The criminal complaint that led to this morning’s arrests charges the three defendants with conspiracy to commit immigration fraud. A 42-page affidavit in support of the complaint outlines a years-long scheme to bring FTWs to the United States under false pretenses and to make arrangements for productive fundraisers – known as “Assets” – to remain in the country by forcing them to marry other KOJC members who were U.S. citizens, or to obtain student visas and enroll FTWs in schools with lenient attendance policies. Over the past 20 years, according to immigration records summarized in the affidavit, there were 82 marriages involving KOJC administrators and FTWs.

The affidavit alleges that the immigration fraud scheme provided KOJC with workers to participate in widespread efforts to solicit donations with false claims that donors’ money would be used for the benefit of poor children in the Philippines. KOJC allegedly established daily cash solicitation quotas for FTWs, and if these quotas were not met, workers suffered abuse, according to victims who have fled KOJC and provided information to the FBI.

“[B]ank records show that KOJC accounts received approximately $20 million in cash deposits from 2014 through mid-2019,…[and] most of these funds appear to derive from street-level solicitation,” according to the affidavit, which notes that “little to no money solicited appears to benefit impoverished or in-need children.”

The affidavit summarizes the experiences of a series of victims who fled KOJC and provided information to the FBI over the past several years. Some of the victims described being sent across the U.S. to solicit donations, working long hours to reach their daily quotas, receiving little to no pay for their efforts, and participating in sending large sums of cash back to the Philippines on commercial and private flights.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The charge of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

The FBI has established a toll-free phone number for potential victims or anyone with information about KOJC activities to provide information. The information line is 1-800-CALL FBI (1-800-225-5324), and it will be staffed by English- and Tagalog-speaking personnel. Individuals may also contact the FBI through its website at

The ongoing investigation into KOJC is being led by the FBI, which is receiving substantial assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Fraud Detection and National Security Unit, the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and IRS Criminal Investigation.

This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel Ahn and Jake Nare of the Santa Ana Branch Office.




TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii Military History

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Together


Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

July 4 in Hawaii

Land and Power in Hawaii

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

NRA-ILA Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

School Choice in Hawaii

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii