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Document and Benefit Fraud

4 men sentenced in document and identity fraud investigation

HARRISONBURG, Va. - Four men received prison sentences in United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg on December 10, 2008, for their role in the illegal procurement and sale of authentic identity cards following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). All four men pleaded guilty in September to one count each of participating in a conspiracy to create false identification documents and aggravated identity theft in an identity ring that trafficked in State of Ohio identity cards and other fraudulent identity documents.

"ICE will diligently pursue anyone who produces or sells fraudulent documents," said Mark McGraw, Deputy Special Agent in Charge for ICE's Office of Investigations in Washington, D.C. "The sentencing today reflects the commitment of ICE and the U.S. Attorney's Office to ensure those who run roughshod over the U.S. immigration system will pay the consequences."

All of those sentenced have been charged with conspiring to produce, transfer, possess and use unlawful identification documents between January 2004, and February 2008. The conspiracy was designed to allow the defendants to enrich themselves by fraudulent means through the trafficking of identity documents and State of Ohio identity cards. Furthermore, the use of Puerto Rican birth certificates and matching Social Security cards prevented detection of the true identity of individuals purchasing those identity documents.

Jairo Juarez Gomez, 32, of Harrisonburg, Va. was sentenced to 27 months confinement and 3 years supervised release. Edwin Roberto Mendez, 32, also of Harrisonburg, was sentenced to 50 months confinement and 3 years supervised release. Luis E. Toro, a.k.a. "Luis Rosado-Rodriguez," 29, of Ponce, Puerto Rico, was sentenced to 42 months confinement and 3 years supervised release. Efrain Sanchez-Aparicio, a.k.a "Juan Lnu," 23, of Mexico, was sentenced to 48 months confinement and 3 years supervised release.

According to court proceedings, Toro admitted that he began selling Puerto Rican birth certificates to Mendez, and others, in approximately 1999. Mendez admitted in court that he would in-turn sell the Puerto Rican source documents to individuals who were in the United States illegally and needed the paperwork to secure state identification cards to be used for employment.

ICE partnered with the Department of Labor, Office of Labor, Racketeering and Fraud Investigation; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; the Virginia Attorney General's Office; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia on this investigation.