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Document and Benefit Fraud
05/18/2011

Idahoan charged with fraudulently obtaining U.S. citizenship

BOISE, Idaho - A Blaine County, Idaho, man who was under federal indictment on felony immigration fraud charges was arrested Wednesday by local law enforcement, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Americo De La Cruz, 38, of Hailey, Idaho, faces criminal charges of false swearing in an immigration matter, unlawful procurement of citizenship, and perjury. The grand jury returned a five-count indictment against the defendant Thursday.

According to court documents, the indictment alleges that De La Cruz provided false information abut his residence and the validity of his marriage in a sworn interview with immigration agents and in two applications for immigration benefits. Based on the false information provided, De La Cruz obtained U.S. citizenship.

"The defendant in this case falsely believed that he could obtain U.S. citizenship through deceitful means," said Brad Bench, deputy special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Idaho. "However, the outcome of this investigation clearly demonstrates that our nation's immigration laws are to be respected, not ignored."

The charge of false swearing in an immigration matter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charge of unlawful procurement of citizenship is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release. The charge of perjury is punishable by up to five years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.

An indictment is a means of charging a person with criminal activity. It is not evidence. The person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.