Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Providing Fraudulent Documents to Defendants in Passport Fraud Case
Baltimore, Maryland - Jose Oscar Melendez, age 40, of Middle River, Maryland, pleaded guilty late yesterday to identification document fraud in connection with a scheme to supply illegal aliens with fraudulent birth certificates and social security numbers.
The guilty plea was 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 John Schilling of the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service - Washington Field Office.
According to Melendez’ plea agreement, from September 21, 2009, through July 6, 2010, Melendez manufactured and sold identity and citizenship documents, including: fake birth certificates purporting to be issued in Rochester, New York; and fake social security number cards.
According to the statement of facts, Melendez worked for an engineering company which was contracted by government entities to perform inspection services at construction sites in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Melendez approached supervisors and others, offering to provide papers for any illegal aliens employed at the work site. When he learned individuals were illegally present in the United States, Melendez identified himself as an inspector and told the aliens he could help them obtain documents to allow them to work in the United States and travel to and from the United States.
Melendez admitted that he told the illegal aliens that he could obtain genuine Rochester, New York birth certificates and genuine social security number cards from his government contacts. In fact, Melendez manufactured the Rochester, New York birth certificates and the social security number cards, charging between $1,000 and $6,000 for each set of fake documents.
Once he was paid for the documents, in some cases Melendez went with the illegal alien to a United States Post Office and assisted the alien in filing an application for a United States passport. The illegal aliens knew that they were not United States citizens and not eligible for a United States passport, as did Melendez. Melendez assisted at least nine individuals in filing applications for United States passports based on fake Rochester, New York birth certificates he had produced; and manufactured between six and 25 identification documents. Melendez received a total of between $30,000 and $70,000 from the illegal aliens for the fraudulent documents.
Nine illegal aliens, most from South and Central America, were previously indicted in Baltimore, Maryland and Alexandria, Virginia 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 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. All four have pleaded guilty and are detained pending sentencing. A fifth Maryland defendant, Renan Javier Flores-Ledezma, is a fugitive. All defendants have agreed to deportation after they serve their sentence, except Melendez, a United States citizen, and Lemus-Moscoso, who is already in immigration proceedings.
The four 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 and Mongolian native Gerele Todkhuu, age 30, of Fairfax, Virginia. All of the defendants have pleaded guilty, except Todkhuu, who is scheduled to have a rearraignment on October 28, 2010.
Melendez faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for identification document fraud. U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg has scheduled sentencing for January 14, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. Melendez was released from federal custody on conditions pending sentencing.
United States Attorneys Rod J. Rosenstein and Neil H. MacBride thanked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their assistance and commended the U.S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service - Washington Field Office for its work in this investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein recognized Assistant United States Attorney Tamera L. Fine and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tritia Yuen and Michael Gaches, who are prosecuting these cases.