URBANA, Ill. — Grand jury indictments returned this week charged two men with aggravated identity theft, making false claims of U.S. citizenship, and other related crimes.
These charges resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). In addition, the Champaign County (Illinois) Street Crimes Unit and the Department of State Diplomatic Security Service assisted in this investigation.
Miguel Valencia-Sandoval, 33, of Champaign, Illinois, made his initial appearance in federal court in Urbana Thursday. The indictment charges Valencia-Sandoval with aggravated identity theft and making a false statement of U.S. citizenship in April 2012 on a U.S. passport application by allegedly using another person’s identity and stating he was a U.S. citizen when he was not. The indictment also charges Valencia-Sandoval with allegedly making a false claim of U.S. citizenship to vote in November 2016, aggravated identity theft, and three misdemeanor counts of voting in an election by an illegal alien in November 2016, November 2014, and November 2012.
Valencia-Sandoval was previously charged in a criminal complaint filed in the Central District of Illinois Jan. 9. According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, on Jan. 7, Valencia-Sandoval applied for admission to the U.S. from Mexico via the Lincoln-Juarez Port of Entry, into Laredo, Texas. After he was taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, Valencia-Sandoval was charged with illegally attempting to enter the U.S. in a separate complaint filed in the Southern District of Texas. According to court documents, Valencia-Sandoval waived an identity hearing in Texas, consented to transfer to the Central District of Illinois, and he remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending future court hearings in the Central District of Illinois.
A separate, unrelated indictment charges Salvador Garcia-Luna, 27, of Champaign, Illinois, with making a false statement of U.S. citizenship and aggravated identity theft in March 2016 on a U.S. passport application by allegedly using another’s identity and stating he was a U.S citizen when he was not. Garcia-Luna is also charged with being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm on Jan. 4.
Garcia-Luna was initially charged by indictment Jan. 3 with making a false statement of U.S. citizenship on a U.S. passport application. The superseding indictment returned this week charges Garcia-Luna with the additional counts. Garcia-Luna was arrested in Champaign Jan. 6 and appeared in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long, who ordered that Garcia-Luna remain detained in U.S. Marshals Service custody.
If convicted, the maximum statutory penalty for each offense is as follows: making a false statement in a passport application — up to 10 years in prison; aggravated identity theft — a minimum two years in prison served consecutively to any other sentence; possessing a firearm by a an illegal alien — up to 10 years in prison; making a false statement or claim of citizenship to vote — up to five years in prison; voting by illegal alien — up to one year in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Freres, Central District of Illinois, is prosecuting both cases.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; each defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.