SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Five individuals previously employed at the local La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant made initial federal court appearances on Friday. The workers were each charged by criminal complaint following execution of a search warrant as part of an ongoing worksite enforcement operation conducted on July 6 by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
In separate criminal complaints, the following three workers were charged with fraudulently misusing documents: Carlos-Castaneda, 36; Martin Sarmiento-Aguilar, 33; and Christian Martinez-Fuentes, 24. The complaints state that agents executed a search warrant at La Fiesta restaurant on Wednesday, and personnel files in the manager's office were examined. The complaints allege that the files contained fraudulent employment eligibility documents, including immigration and social security numbers provided by the defendants that did not relate to the defendant or were invalid numbers.
Two workers were charged with illegally re-entering the United States: Mateo Alonzo-Gomez, 21, and Javier Vicente-Inocente, 31. According to the complaints, immigration records show that Alonzo-Gomez, a citizen of Mexico, had been deported three times. Vicente-Inocente was previously deported in November 2005. Anyone who re-enters the United States after having been formally deported commits a felony.
The defendants made their initial appearance on July 8 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore, and were ordered to remain in U.S. Marshals Service custody. Those arrested administratively for immigration violations remain in ICE custody.
If convicted, the statutory penalty for fraudulently misusing documents is up to five years in prison. For illegal reentry after deportation, the maximum statutory penalty is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The charges are the result of an ongoing investigation by ICE HSI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris, Central District of Illinois, is prosecuting the cases.