Isidro Hernandez-casas Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on January 6, 2009, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, ISIDRO HERNANDEZ-CASAS, a 55-year-old citizen of Mexico, pled guilty to illegal re-entry of a previously deported alien. Sentencing is set for March 20, 2009. He is currently detained.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
On October 4, 2008, a Montana Highway Patrol officer stopped near Alberton to assist some individuals fixing a flat tire on a minivan. HERNANDEZ-CASAS was the driver and there were three passengers. Because the van was not properly registered, the officer cited HERNANDEZ-CASAS and impounded the vehicle. He told HERNANDEZ-CASAS that the van would be released if proof of ownership was provided to Mineral County by October 6, 2008.
The officer suspected that the four occupants of the van might be illegal aliens, so after his encounter with them he contacted the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). An ICE agent determined that all four occupants of the van were likely illegal aliens and that HERNANDEZ-CASAS had been previously deported from the United States.
On October 6, 2008, HERNANDEZ-CASAS was arrested when he went to the Mineral County Courthouse to provide proof of ownership for the van. His fingerprints were then analyzed which revealed that he had previously been deported from the United States on July 17, 1999, through McAllen, Texas. His removal followed a conviction in 1995 for a felony in Gwinnett County, Georgia, for purchasing and/or possessing cocaine. There is no evidence in HERNANDEZ-CASAS' immigration file that he had applied for or received permission to reenter the United States with either the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security or the Attorney General.
ISIDRO HERNANDEZ-CASAS faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Montana Highway Patrol.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.