guatemalan national pleads guilty to iD theft; more than 100 illegal aliens used false iD in scheme to obtain licenses
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Guatemalan national pleaded guilty in federal court today to aggravated identity theft in connection to a conspiracy to provide false identity documents so that more than 100 illegal immigrants could fraudulently obtain driver’s and non-driver’s licenses from the license office in St. Joseph, which is operated by a contractor for the Missouri Department of Revenue.
Pedro Pablo-Solis, 28, a citizen of Guatemala residing in Liberal, Kan., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian C. Wimes to aggravated identity theft.
Illegal aliens traveled across the United States to obtain licenses at the St. Joseph license office by using unlawfully obtained birth certificates and Social Security cards. It is estimated that well over 100 Missouri licenses were unlawfully issued to illegal aliens as part of this conspiracy from July 1, 2010, to Jan. 10, 2012.
Pablo-Solis’s role in the conspiracy was to obtain genuine Social Security cards and birth certificates that were later used by illegal aliens to fraudulently obtain Missouri identification documents. Pablo-Solis, who is illegally present in the United States, provided co-defendant Domingo Ajanel-Castro, 33, a citizen of Guatemala residing in St. Joseph, with identification documents for a specific age range for either a male or a female that corresponded with the illegal alien who was purchasing the document set.
Pablo-Solis is the fifth and final co-defendant to plead guilty in this case. Thomas Richard McNamara III, 26, formerly an employee at the St. Joseph license office, Hector Juarez Mendoza, Sr., 54, a citizen of Mexico who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and his wife, Isabel Ramirez Mendoza, 62, and Ajanel-Castro, all of St. Joseph, have pleaded guilty to their roles in a conspiracy to unlawfully produce identification documents, unlawfully transfer the means of identification of another person and commit Social Security fraud and to aggravated identity theft. Ajanel-Castro also pleaded guilty to possessing false or fraudulently obtained identification documents.
The Mendozas and others (including family members, such as her minor son) escorted illegal aliens into the St. Joseph license office under the guise of serving as translators. They charged a fee, typically $100, for assisting the illegal aliens to obtain a Missouri driver’s or non-driver’s license that was in the name of another person who was listed on unlawfully obtained birth certificates and Social Security cards.
The Mendozas also referred illegal aliens to co-conspirators who could assist them in obtaining identification documents that could be used to fraudulently obtain Missouri non-driver’s licenses. The illegal aliens were usually charged between $500 and $950 for the document sets and the Missouri driver’s and non-driver’s licenses.
The Mendozas assisted illegal aliens in preparing for potential questions from the license office employees, such as learning the names on the birth certificates, the names of the parents on the birth certificates, the dates of birth, and the Social Security numbers.
Sometime between June 22, 2009, and Nov. 2, 2011, Isabel Mendoza approached McNamara and asked him to accept identification documents he was not supposed to accept and issue Missouri driver’s or non-driver’s licenses to individuals who were escorted by her and others. In exchange, she offered to pay McNamara a fee of approximately $50 to $100 for each time he issued a license he was not supposed to issue due to the inadequate documentation of their true identity.
McNamara admitted that he accepted improper documents approximately two to three times a week, but he didn’t do this every week. Mendoza often called Isabel McNamara before bringing aliens to the license office to make sure he would be working and to let him know they were bringing in clients. McNamara then met with Isabel Mendoza on numerous occasions during non-work hours at locations other than the licensing office to receive payment.
According to McNamara, it was common knowledge among the employees at the license office that co-conspirators were assisting illegal aliens to obtain licenses.
Pablo-Solis is subject to a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Mendoza must forfeit $125,000 to the government. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department, the Platte County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Department of Revenue Investigation Bureau, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.