A man who claimed to be assisting hundreds of asylum seeking families at his office in the Bronx has now been arrested for allegedly violating his parole, after Documented reported that he was a convicted child sex offender in New Jersey.
The man, who introduced himself to asylum seekers as “Pastor Darwin” and shared his name on business cards as “Darwin Maradiaga,” is actually listed in New Jersey court records by another name: Adonis Giron.
In 2010, he was sentenced to up to ten years in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl, according to New Jersey court records and local news reports. He was charged with molesting two other girls, who were 13 years old, but those charges were dropped after he pleaded guilty to the sexual assault charge, Steven Dill, the Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor at the time, said in 2010. Giron is currently on the New Jersey sex offender registry.
Giron is under parole supervision for life under the New Jersey State Parole Board, said Patrick Lombardi, a spokesperson for the agency. Last week, following the publication of Documented’s investigation into Giron, the State took him into custody because he allegedly violated the conditions of his parole status, Lombardi said. He is now incarcerated at the Hudson County Jail while he awaits a parole revocation hearing, according to Lombardi.
Giron was admitted into custody on August 22 and now has a maximum term of 12 months in prison, New Jersey Department of Corrections records show. The State Parole Board declined to provide specific information regarding the supervision details of the case and of Giron’s personal information.
In New York, Giron, now 57-years-old, presented himself as the founder and chairman of a group he called Family Vision, operating out of an office in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. There, he told asylum seekers he would give them food and clothes, and assist them with their immigration cases and job opportunities. On a recent visit to the office, Documented witnessed various families of asylum seekers meeting with Giron and asking for aid. Minors ranging from young children in strollers to teenagers roamed the office or waited with their parents.
But more than ten asylum seekers who sought Giron’s help told Documented that he promised opportunities he couldn’t deliver on, like employment and free tablets, and took pictures or copies of much of their personal information. Some said “Pastor Darwin” recruited them to sell electronics of unclear origins. Asylum seekers who sought support from Giron said that they didn’t know he was a convicted child sex offender.
“If I would have known,” said Reinimar Berríos Aldana, a 28-year-old mother of two from Venezuela who visited Family Vision with her children at the beginning of August, “I would not have gone there, exposing my children.”
Giron also previously pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree theft by deception for posing as a representative of Western Union and the New Jersey State Lottery Commission, through which he obtained more than $38,000. He was sentenced in 2009 to probation, according to court records. Giron has been active in immigrant advocate circles since at least last summer, maintaining that he was providing crucial services to asylum seekers. He was interviewed by the local ABC7 news station last September about conditions in city shelters, and his group was featured on Spectrum News NY1 about a year ago. In January, Giron appeared with advocates and elected officials at a City Hall press conference about asylum seekers, according to a transcript of the news conference.