CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — An illegal alien living in northern Iowa – who assumed the identity of a U.S. citizen, obtained a U.S. passport, and voted in the 2012 presidential election – pleaded guilty to these charges in federal court Wednesday.
This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), the Iowa Division of Investigations and Appeals, the Iowa Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection, the Hamilton County (Iowa) Sheriff’s Office, and the Iowa police departments of Hampton and Webster City.
Abel Hernandez-Labra, 44, a resident of Hampton, Iowa, was convicted of the following charges:
- one count of making false statements in a passport application,
- one count of aggravated identity theft,
- one count of making a false claim of U.S. citizenship to register to vote, and
- one count of harboring an illegal alien.
In a plea agreement, Hernandez-Labra admitted that he is a Mexican citizen who illegally entered the United States and that he illegally purchased a birth certificate and social security number of an American citizen born in Puerto Rico and assumed that person’s identity.
Using those documents to make a false claim to U.S. citizenship, Hernandez-Labra next admitted to using those documents to illegally obtain Iowa driver’s licenses which he later used to apply for, and fraudulently obtain, a U.S. passport in 2008 and to unlawfully register and vote in the 2012 federal election.
Hernandez-Labra further admitted that, during 2014, he harbored and encouraged an illegal alien to reside unlawfully in the United States by providing work and a residence and by not reporting the alien to immigration authorities.
Sentencing will be set after a presentence report is prepared. Hernandez-Labra remains in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending his sentencing. Hernandez-Labra faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years’ imprisonment on the aggravated identity theft conviction, and a possible maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment on the passport fraud conviction, and five years’ imprisonment on both the illegal voting conviction and alien harboring conviction. In addition, he faces the following possible consequences: a $1 million fine, three years of supervised release, deportation after he completes whatever prison sentence may be imposed, and – for falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen – he also faces a lifetime bar from entering the U.S.