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Document and Benefit Fraud

5 sentenced in Indiana for conspiring to obtain car registrations for illegal aliens

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – This week concluded the case against five individuals convicted in February of harboring illegal aliens in a conspiracy to obtain motor vehicle registrations, license plates and titles for illegal aliens.

U.S. District Judge Jon DeGuilio, Northern District of Indiana, sentenced the following Indiana residents:

  • Margarito Fuentes-Reyes, 52, of Goshen, sentenced to 48 months in federal prison;
  • Yalitza Exclusa-Borrero, 32, of Indianapolis, 24 months;
  • Luis Omar Montes-Merino, 34, of Indianapolis, 60 months; and
  • Omar Duran-Lagunes, 35, of Indianapolis, 84 months.

Earlier in October Judge DeGuilio also sentenced Evelyn River-Borrero, 44, from Indianapolis, to 24 months in prison.

These sentences resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) in an operation called "Title Check." The following agencies assisted with this investigation: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Elkhart Police Department, Indiana State Police, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), and the Indiana Secretary of State. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana also provided assistance.

Judge DeGuilio also ordered all the defendants to serve one year of supervised release after they complete their prison sentences. As illegal aliens, Duran, Montes-Merino and Fuentes-Reyes will be turned over to ICE for deportation after they complete their sentences.

All five defendants were convicted of all counts of the indictment charging them with immigration fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The defendants presented false information, forged documents, and made false representations to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Indiana Secretary of State regarding the identity of the actual owners of motor vehicles to obtain registrations, license plates and titles.

The conspirators used false advertising, created thousands of business entities, used false notarizations on BMV forms, submitted fictitious insurance information, presented false vehicle sale price amounts to avoid sales taxes, and used intimate knowledge of BMV procedures to commit the crimes. By committing these and other crimes, the defendants concealed, harbored and shielded illegal aliens from detection, and encouraged them to enter and remain in the United States in violation of immigration laws.

The conspirators typically charged their customers $350 and promised to register their vehicles in the customer’s name. Instead, the conspirators registered the cars in the name of sham limited liability companies to avoid BMV scrutiny. The conspirators operated at locations in Indianapolis, Elkhart and Goshen, Ind.

"These sentences send a clear message about the consequences facing those involved in the illegal document trade," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago. "HSI special agents remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent, detect and dismantle identity fraud schemes that adversely affect the public trust throughout Indiana and elsewhere. HSI will continue to move aggressively against those who put personal profit ahead of public safety."

Eddie C. Woodson, inspector in charge of USPIS’s Detroit Division, stated, "The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to aggressively addressing and investigating these criminal acts and the victimization of the American public. I applaud the interagency cooperation of all involved."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Hays, Northern District of Indiana, prosecuted this case.