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Document and Benefit Fraud

Mexican man indicted for passport fraud and falsely claiming US citizenship

MCALLEN, Texas — A Mexican man was indicted on Tuesday for passport fraud and falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, announced U.S Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) with the assistance of U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service, and the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General's Office of Investigations.

Joel Alonso Rivera-Martinez, 37, an illegal alien from Mexico, was arrested before a criminal complaint was filed against him. According to court documents, Rivera submitted an application for a U.S. passport at a U.S. post office in McAllen, Texas on Jan. 28, 2009. On the application, Rivera allegedly lied by claiming to be another person who actually was a U.S. citizen and presenting a birth certificate and Texas driver's license in the name of the citizen. On June 1, 2009, Rivera fraudulently obtained a U.S. passport. On Nov. 23, 2009, the real U.S. citizen applied for a passport but was unable to obtain one because, according to allegations in the complaint, Rivera had already obtained a passport under that name. Rivera went on to use that passport at least 45 times to cross from Mexico into the U.S. until his arrest on June 17, 2011, in Edinburg, Texas.

On June 23, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter E. Ormsby ordered Rivera to remain in custody with no bond pending trial.

If convicted, Rivera could be sentenced to up to 15 years in federal prison with no parole on the passport fraud charge, and up to three years imprisonment on the false claim to citizenship charge He could also be fined up to $250,000 on each charge. Rivera is also be subject to deportation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Sully, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.