MIAMI - Natalie Opal Holmes, 34, a citizen of Jamaica, residing illegally in South Florida using another's identity was sentenced Thursday to four and one-half years in federal prison for multiple violations, including aggravated identity theft, following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.
Holmes was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez to 54 months of federal incarceration and remanded to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons for false statements in application and use of a passport; two counts of social security fraud; two counts of false claim of United States citizenship and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
After serving the criminal sentence, Holmes will be removed from the United States to her native country of Jamaica. The convictions for violation of 18 USC 1028A are significant due to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Flores-Figueroa v. U.S., reached on May 4, 2009, where it was held that in order to convict a defendant for aggravated identity theft under 18 U.S.C. § 1028A, the Government must show that the defendant knew that the means of identification at issue actually belonged to another person. The conviction of Holmes is the first in the 11th District under the newly enunciated knowledge requirement.
"The theft and use of another's identity not only poses serious threats to the credit backgrounds of our lawful citizens, but puts the security of our communities and even our country at risk," said Anthony Mangione, ICE special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami. "This criminal activity allows for dangerous criminals to obscure their identities and cover their tracks. We will continue to aggressively target those participating in or facilitating these crimes."
In February, ICE special agents received information from the Miami-Dade Police Department's Homeland Security Bureau that Holmes, along with another individual, was arrested under an alias in December 2008 in Lee County, Florida. ICE special agents initiated an investigation and determined that Holmes was residing in the U.S. illegally and had been involved in long-term identity theft using the alias of a United States citizen and fraudulently obtained a Florida Identification Card and Driver's License under that alias. ICE agents also determined that Holmes fraudulently applied for and received a U.S. passport under the alias.
ICE agents arrested Holmes in March on federal criminal charges. On May 12, 2009, following a two day trial, Holmes was convicted on all seven counts in the indictment.
The case was investigated by ICE's Office of Investigations in Miami and prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Lorraine Tashman.