U.S. Department of Justice|
United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California
United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-173|
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs|
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947
Los Angeles, CA - An enforcement operation by the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) has led to the arrest of 19 defendants and charges being filed against another six who allegedly acquired or attempted to acquire United States passports with false identities.
Operation "Secure Passport" targeted individuals who applied for passports – sometimes successfully – through various fraudulent means. In recent weeks, a total of 25 defendants have been charged, with most of the arrests taking place over the past two weeks. Most of the defendants are charged with making a false statement in a passport application, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison. The cases brought as part of Operation Secure Passport are outlined below.
Morris Gerome Fuller was charged earlier this month with using the identity of his mentally handicapped uncle to procure a United States passport. Fuller, 49, of Hawthorne, has been previously convicted of numerous felonies. Fuller was arrested on December 11 and was ordered held without bond.
Christopher Carlyle was charged December 8 with obtaining a passport, which he used to flee to China while facing criminal charges in the United States. Carlyle, 35, of Joliet, Illinois, who also uses the name "Christopher Pilar," was facing fraud charges in Illinois, when he fled to Los Angeles and fraudulently obtained a passport by falsely stating that he had lost it. In fact, Carlyle had previously surrendered his passport as a condition of being released on bail in the Illinois case. Carlyle is currently in custody in Illinois awaiting trial on charges of bail jumping and fraud.
Anne Brown Hunter Flaherty was charged earlier this month with fraudulently obtaining a passport in an assumed identity while she was a fugitive facing charges of heading a prostitution ring. Flaherty, 43, of Boston, Massachusetts, who also uses the name "Linda Louise Jackson Ergle," was charged after attorneys for her late husband's estate revealed to authorities that she admitted obtaining the passport to travel under an assumed identity. After her arrest by DSS on Monday, Flaherty appeared in United States District Court in Boston, where a judge ordered her held without bond while she is transported to Los Angeles to face the charge.
Jesus Aguilera was charged in November and pleaded guilty on December 4. Aguilera, 27, of Long Beach, is a Mexican citizen who admitted using the stolen identity of a United States citizen to apply for a passport in his name. Aguilera is scheduled to be sentenced on January 8.
Mexican citizen Arnulfo Araiza was indicted in late November for allegedly applying for a passport in the identity of a deceased U.S. citizen. Araiza, 24, of Long Beach, is a fugitive being sought by authorities.
Rafael Araujo was indicted on December 8. Araujo, 32, of Wilmington, is a citizen of Mexico, who allegedly obtained a passport in the name of a deceased person in 2001. Araujo was arrested on December 11, and a Magistrate Judge subsequently ordered that he be held without bond.
Jerret Jason Carter was indicted on December 8 for allegedly filing a passport application with the photograph of another individual. Carter, 29, of Moreno Valley, was arrested on December 14 and later a judge freed him on bond.
Salvador Franco Covarrubias was indicted earlier this month for allegedly using a false Ohio birth certificate and driver's license to apply for a passport. Covarrubias, 37, of Perris, was summoned to appear in court for an arraignment on January 3.
Jacqueline Diaz, a previously deported alien from Mexico, applied for and obtained a passport under a stolen identity of a United States citizen. Diaz, 36, of Ontario, was indicted in mid-November and was arrested on December 12. She was ordered held without bond.
Adolph Ferrer was named in a criminal complaint filed on December 8 that accuses him of attempting to obtain a passport by using a counterfeit birth certificate. Ferrer, 72, of Lancaster, self-surrendered on December 14 and, appearing in court that afternoon, was released on bond.
Elka Ruth Gilmore was named in a criminal complaint filed earlier this month that accused her of fraudulently obtaining a passport in the name of a former roommate. Gilmore, 46, of Bakersfield, who has felony arrests for burglary, fraud and identity theft, was arrested on December 12 and was released on bond.
Mexican citizen Francisco Javier Gudino Reyes was indicted in late-November on charges of obtaining a passport in the identity of a deceased United States citizen. Reyes, 26, of Thousand Oaks, was arrested on December 9, and was ordered held without bond. Reyes previously has been deported to Mexico three times by immigration authorities.
Jose Erasmo Daniel Herrejon, a Mexican citizen, was indicted on December 1 on charges of obtaining a passport in the identity of a United States citizen. Herrejon, 47, of Santa Ana, is a fugitive who is believed to be in Mexico.
Mexican citizen Wilber Alfredo Huaman-Vidal was named in a criminal complaint filed last Monday that charges him with using the stolen identity of a United States citizen to obtain a passport. Huaman-Vidal, 34, of Los Angeles, is currently in custody on local charges related to his alleged involvement in a ring that committed insurance fraud by staging automobile accidents.
Johnny Roy Jeffrey was indicted December 8 on charges of attempting to obtain a passport in his name, but with the photo of another person. Jeffery, 29, of Hawthorne, was arrested last night and is expected to appear in court this afternoon.
Mexican citizen Salvador Mariscal-Romero was named in a criminal complaint filed in mid-November that charged him with attempting to obtain a passport in an assumed identity. Mariscal-Romero, 40, of Tujunga, has been deported from the United States six times, and he has prior convictions for crimes that include burglary and drug possession. Mariscal-Romero is a fugitive currently being sought by federal authorities.
Guadalupe Marquez was named in a criminal complaint that accuses her of submitting a Puerto Rican birth certificate and other false documentation to falsely claim she was a United States citizen when she applied for a Passport. Marquez, 30, of Corona, was arrested on December 18 and was ordered released on bond.
Constance Mildenberger was named in a criminal complaint that accuses her of fraudulently acquiring passports for her two adopted daughters in London and in Los Angeles. Mildenberger, 58, of Northridge, was arrested on December 9. She was subsequently released on bond and ordered to appear for an arraignment on January 8.
Mexican citizen Jose Corral-Yanez was arrested on December 13 after being charged with using the name of a deceased United States citizen to apply for a passport. Corral-Yanez, 28, of Lynwood, is an illegal alien who remains in custody.
Mexican citizen Jose Preciado Perez was indicted in mid-November for allegedly using the identity of a United States citizen to obtain various identification documents, including a passport, in that false name. Perez, 68, of Santa Barbara, was arrested on December 7 and was ordered held without bond. Perez has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial on January 30.
Herminia Rueda-Lozada was named in a criminal complaint filed in mid-November that accuses her of submitting a Puerto Rican birth certificate and other false documentation to falsely claim United States citizenship when applying for a passport. Rueda-Lozada, 57, of Whittier, is an illegal alien who was previously deported after being convicted of importing heroin. She was arrested last Saturday and on Monday was ordered held without bond.
Mexican citizen Jesus Sanchez was named in a criminal complaint filed in late October that accuses him of obtaining a passport by fraudulently submitting the California birth certificate of a deceased United States citizen. Sanchez, 36, of Santa Barbara, was arrested on December 8 and is scheduled to be arraigned on January 8. Sanchez was deported from the United States in 1993 after being convicted on narcotics charges.
Douglas Omar Garcia, a citizen of El Salvador, was charged with presenting a counterfeit California birth certificate when he applied for a passport in the name "Pedro Solis." Garcia, 35, of Los Angeles, was arrested last Friday and was released on bond.
William Turner was indicted in late-November on charges of applying for a passport in his own name, but submitting a photograph of his friend, who had paid Turner to apply for the passport. Turner, 30, of Van Nuys, was arrested on December 9 and was subsequently released on bond.
Carolina Ramirez was charged in a criminal complaint for applying for a passport in the identity of a United States citizen. Ramirez, 32, a Mexican citizen who was living in Compton, was arrested on December 10 and was ordered held without bond.
"Passport fraud and visa fraud potentially threaten the national security of the United States," said Ambassador Richard J. Griffin, Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security. "The U.S. passport and visa are two of the most coveted travel documents in the world, and those who have acquired passports and visas fraudulently could perpetrate further illegal acts. These crimes make the United States more vulnerable to terrorism, plain and simple."
Patrick Donovan, Assistant Director of the Diplomatic Security Service, stated: "The Los Angeles Field Office did an outstanding job investigating these cases. The apprehension of these individuals demonstrates the DSS commitment to maintaining the integrity of the passport process. Passport fraud cases are serious crimes with substantive national security, economic and personal consequences. DSS appreciates working with all the U.S. Attorneys to prevent such crimes."
These cases were investigated by the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service.
Release No. 06-173
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