Maryland Man Arrested for Allegedly Providing Fraudulent Documents to Defendants Indicted in Passport Fraud Case
Baltimore, Maryland - A criminal complaint has been filed charging Jose Oscar Melendez, age 40, of Middle River, Maryland, with identification document fraud and social security number fraud in connection with a scheme to supply illegal aliens with fraudulent birth certificates and social security numbers. Melendez was arrested today and had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Baltimore today at 3:00 p.m. He is detained pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.
Federal grand juries in Baltimore, Maryland and Alexandria, Virginia previously indicted eight individuals in this case, all illegal aliens from South and Central America, charged with making a false statement in their passport application; making a false claim of U.S. citizenship; and using a fraudulent social security number. The Maryland indictments were returned on June 22, 2010 and the Virginia indictments were returned on June 17, 2010. Seven of the indictments were unsealed after the arrests of those defendants on June 30, 2010.
The criminal complaint and indictments were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride; and Special Agent in Charge Todd Brown of the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service - Washington Field Office.
“Passport fraud is a threat to the national security of the United States,” said Todd Brown, Special Agent in Charge of the DSS Washington Field Office. “The U.S. passport likely is the most coveted travel document in the world. Agents of the Washington Field Office did an outstanding job investigating this case and uncovering multiple attempts to acquire a U.S passport by using fraudulent identity documents. The apprehension of the eight suspects demonstrates Diplomatic Security’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of the passport and visa process. DSS is grateful for the support and team work from ICE agents and the U.S. Attorney’s office.”
The defendants indicted in Maryland who have been arrested are: Bolivian native Ruben Santiago Corrales-Prado, a/k/a “Santiago Prado-Fernandez” and “Santiago Ruben Corrales,” age 32, of Falls Church, Virginia; Guatemalan native Hector E. Lemus-Moscoso, age 35, of Poolesville, Maryland; Nicaraguan native Bayardo A. Garcia-Blanco, age 48, of Alexandria, Virginia; and Bolivian native Isabel Ortuste, age 33, of Baltimore, Maryland. The defendants had an initial appearance on June 30, 2010 and are detained pending trial.
The three Virginia indictments charge: Argentine natives Felix Ferrufino, age 54; his son Victor Simon Ferrufino, age 27, both of Woodbridge, Virginia; and Bolivian native Abel Marcos Corrales Prado, age 25, of Falls Church, Virginia. All three defendants have been arrested and had an initial appearance on June 30, 2010. They are also detained pending trial.
According to the criminal complaint and all eight of the three-count indictments, each of the defendants filed an application for a United States passport in which they claimed to be born in Rochester, New York, claimed to be United States citizen and supplied a fraudulent social security number. According to the criminal complaint, Melendez met with several of the defendants and in exchange for cash, provided the defendants with fraudulent social security numbers and fraudulent birth certificates showing that the defendant had been born in Rochester, New York. Melendez then allegedly helped the defendants to prepare their passport application, telling them what information to write on the application, helping to explain the questions and traveling with them to the post office to file the application.
If convicted, Melendez faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for identification document fraud and five years in prison for social security number fraud. The indicted defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for making a false statement in the passport application; three years in prison for falsely claiming U.S. citizenship; and five years in prison for using a fraudulent social security number.
An indictment or a criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment or criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorneys Rod J. Rosenstein and Neil H. MacBride thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their assistance in this investigation and prosecution and commended Assistant United States Attorney Tameral L. Fine and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tritia Yuen and Michael Gaches, who are prosecuting these cases.