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Document and Benefit Fraud

9 Valley residents charged in major document fraud scheme

FRESNO, Calif. — Nine Fresno-area residents were charged Thursday in a 37-count federal indictment for their role in a major counterfeit document ring uncovered as a result of a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiracy to produce, transfer, possess and sell false identification documents in Fresno, Tulare and Madera Counties. Those named in the indictment are:

  • Luis Mirabete-Pena, aka Junior, 23, of Fresno;
  • Benjamin Aparacio-Pablo, 26, of Tulare;
  • Othoniel Parra-Gallardo, 31, of Tulare;
  • Felix Santiago-Matias, aka Freddy, 41, of Fresno;
  • Marco Antonio Arias-Solis, 40, of Fresno;
  • Jenny Thanh Nguyen, 55, of Clovis;
  • Ubaldo Castillo-Hernandez, 41, of Ontario;
  • Dalia Reyes-Serapio, 29, of Fresno; and
  • Eretzandert Morales-Lozano, 26, of Tulare.

The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto May 4. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Garriques is prosecuting the case.

According to the indictment, between January and April 2012, Mirabete-Pena, Aparacio-Pablo, and Parra-Gallardo produced false identification documents at various places. Santiago-Matias, Arias-Solis, Morales-Lozano, and Nguyen delivered and sold the documents to customers. During the conspiracy, customers placed orders for false documents with a distributor or directly with Mirabete-Pena, Aparacio-Pena and Parra-Gallardo. The distributors took photographs and biographical information from the customers. Mirabete-Pena, Aparacio-Pena and Parra-Gallardo used the information to produce fraudulent Social Security cards and alien registration cards, also known as "green cards." The distributors then delivered the completed false documents to customers. During the course of the conspiracy, Castillo-Hernandez and Reyes-Serapio also assisted with document production and possessed document-making implements.

HSI received substantial support with the case from the Fresno County Sheriff's Office Air Support Unit.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined after conviction at the discretion of the court following consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.