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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



MAY 23, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Audio comment from U.S. Attorney John F. Wood will be available to download

in MP3 format from the district’s Web site at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


EIGHT POULTRY PLANT EMPLOYEES CHARGED

WITH SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD,

IMMIGRATION VIOLATIONS


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that eight employees of a southwest Missouri poultry-processing plant have been charged in federal court with Social Security fraud and immigration violations in separate cases resulting from a two-year investigation.


             One defendant was charged with Social Security fraud, one defendant was charged with falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen in order to obtain employment, and six defendants were charged with illegally entering the United States after having been deported.


             “We have an obligation to preserve the integrity of our nation’s immigration ssytem by enforcing our immigration laws,” Wood said, “and the problem of illegal immigration is exacerbated when aliens commit additional crimes, such as Social Security fraud. Innocent American citizens are victimized when illegal aliens use stolen Social Security numbers to obtain employment, which causes real economic harm.”


             Seven of the defendants were arrested during the execution of search warrants on Tuesday, May 22, 2007, at George’s Processing, Inc., in Butterfield, Mo. They are Ingrid De Leon-Juarez, 21, Angelica Alvarado-Romero, 28, Ervin Mendez-Ordonez, 22, and Hilda Lopez-Oxlaja, 26, all citizens of Guatemala, and Belia Aldaba-Chavez, 30, Antonio Ordonez-Garcia, 32, and Hugo Ocampo-Ocampo, 27, all citizens of Mexico. An eighth defendant, Fernando Ruiz, 23, a citizen of Guatemala, was arrested on May 7, 2007. All of the defendants are employees of George’s Processing.


             “This is an ongoing investigation, and we are continuing to process the information we received as a result of yesterday’s law enforcement operation and arrests,” Wood said. “Those who repeatedly enter the United States illegally will be prosecuted, and we will aggressively prosecute any violations of federal law – including Social Security fraud, identity theft, or immigration violations.”


             De Leon-Juarez was charged with Social Security fraud in a federal criminal complaint that was filed under seal on May 16, 2007. That complaint, which was originally filed against “Jane Doe” prior to her identity becoming known, was unsealed and made public upon De Leon-Juarez’s initial court appearance this afternoon. Mendez-Ordonez was charged today with falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen in order to obtain employment. The six remaining defendants were each charged today with illegally reentering the United States after having been deported.


            De Leon-Juarez allegedly claimed a Social Security number had been assigned to her, when in fact that number had been assigned to another person by the Commission of Social Security. During her employment at George’s from Jan. 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2006, De Leon-Juarez allegedly used the Social Security number belonging to a San Antonio, Texas, woman receiving Supplemental Security Income payments from SSA.


            According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint filed against De Leon-Juarez, she received $14,300 in wages in 2006, which were reported under another person’s Social Security number.


            Five defendants have previously been charged, in separate cases, as a result of this investigation, including:

Esperanza Piedrasanta-Oxlaj, 38, a citizen of Guatemala residing in Carthage, Mo., who was indicted on May 17, 2007, for Social Security fraud;

Arnoldo De La Cruz-Garcia, 24, a citizen of Mexico, who pleaded guilty on April 12, 2007, to Social Security fraud;

Jose Rivera-De Anda, 19, a citizen of Mexico residing in Cassville, Mo., who pleaded guilty on April 12, 2007, to making a false claim of U.S. citizenship and Social Security fraud;

Luis Cruz-Flores, 25, a citizen of Mexico, who pleaded guilty on March 7, 2007, to aggravated identity theft and Social Security fraud;

Pedro Diego-Catalan, who was sentenced on Dec. 20, 2005, to 18 months in federal prison without parole, after pleading guilty to being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.

            These cases are being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard E. Monroe and Gary Milligan. They were investigated by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General – Office of Investigations, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


            Wood cautioned that the charges contained in these complaints are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html