News and Press Releases

Luis Eduardo Soto-rodriguez Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on March 4, 2009, before Senior U.S. District Judge Jack D. Shanstrom, LUIS EDUARDO SOTO-RODRIGUEZ, a 29-year-old citizen of Mexico, pled guilty to illegal re-entry of a previously deported alien and possession of false documents. Sentencing is set for June 3, 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 January 21, 2009, the Mussellshell County Sheriff's Department contacted the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding a welfare check involving a residence in Roundup. Many of the occupants of the residence had supplied the deputies with what appeared to be false immigration documents.

When the ICE agent responded to the residence, she asked the occupants in Spanish their place of birth. SOTO-RODRIGUEZ responded that he was born in Mexico. She requested his immigration papers and he handed her a Permanent Resident card and a Social Security card, both of which identified him as Luis E. Soto. She recognized immediately that the Permanent Resident card was forged and she suspected the Social Security card was as well.

The agent contacted the Havre Border Patrol dispatch to check the validity of the cards. The document was immediately found to be a forgery. The agent also learned that SOTO-RODRIGUEZ had been previously removed from the United States and that he had provided false immigration documents on that occasion as well.

When questioned further, SOTO-RODRIGUEZ admitted that he had been previously deported 5 months earlier and that he received a 5 year ban from entry back into the United States. He also admitted that his complete name was Luis Eduardo Soto-Rodriguez.

A review of immigration records and a fingerprint comparison confirmed that SOTO-RODRIGUEZ had been previously removed from the United States on August 11, 2008, through Laredo, Texas. A further review of immigration records found no evidence that SOTO-RODRIGUEZ had requested or received permission from the Attorney General or the Secretary of Homeland Security to reenter the United States after being removed.

SOTO-RODRIGUEZ faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Marcia K. Hurd prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.



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