TAMPA, Fla. – A Mexican national unlawfully present in the United States was sentenced Wednesday to three years in federal prison for making material false representations to an agency of the U.S., making false statements as to his citizenship and aggravated identity theft. This case was handled by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
According to court documents, Jose Avianeda-Espinoza, 44, a citizen of Mexico, fraudulently used a U.S. citizen’s identity for nearly 17 years to obtain a number of government identifications and to avoid deportation.
In December 2015, he gave a false name to ERO deportation officers and falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen. He subsequently recanted his claim and admitted to being a citizen of Mexico who was illegally present in the U.S.
On Jan. 4, Avianeda appeared before a federal immigration judge and reasserted his false claim to U.S. citizenship by providing a false name to the court and relying on a stolen birth certificate from Puerto Rico. He subsequently repeated his false claim to immigration officers. In March 2016, Avianeda again appeared before an immigration judge and again falsely identified himself to the court. He pleaded guilty to the charges Aug. 3.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kaitlin R. O’Donnell, with the office of U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III, Middle District Florida.