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Alberto Lagunas-Soto, Lorenzo Santos-Figueroa, and Mauricio Urquiza-Flores Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 09, 2010

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on July 7, 2010, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, ALBERTO LAGUNAS-SOTO, a 56-year-old citizen of Mexico, and LORENZO SANTOS-FIGUEROA, a 42-year-old resident of Santa Ana, California, and MAURICIO URQUIZA-FLORES, a 22-year-old resident of Lake Forest, California appeared for sentencing.

LAGUNAS-SOTO was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 33 months
  • Special Assessment: $100
  • Restitution: to be determined within 90 days
  • Forfeiture: $8,398.01
  • Supervised Release: 5 years

SANTOS-FIGUEROA was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 54 months
  • Special Assessment: $200
  • Restitution: to be determined within 90 days
  • Forfeiture: $8,398.01
  • Supervised Release: 5 years

URQUIZA-FLORES was sentenced to a term of:

  • Prison: 40 months
  • Special Assessment: $200
  • Restitution: to be determined within 90 days
  • Forfeiture: $8,398.01
  • Supervised Release: 5 years

They were sentenced in connection with their guilty pleas to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan R. Whittaker, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On May 06, 2009, a Montana Highway Patrol officer stopped a vehicle near Three Forks for speeding. There were five occupants in the car, including LAGUNAS-SOTO, SANTOS-FIGUEROA, and URQUIZA-FLORES.

During the traffic stop, one of the co-conspirators admitted to the officer that the occupants of the vehicle were engaged in an illegal check cashing scheme. A subsequent search of the co-conspirator's person revealed an envelope in her underwear containing seventeen (17) stolen United States Treasury checks totaling $27,922 and thirty (30) counterfeit California driver's licenses and identification cards.

Evidence would have been introduced at trial to show that beginning in April 2009, and continuing until May 6, 2009, at Billings, Butte, other parts of Montana and other places throughout the western United States, including California and Wyoming, LAGUNAS-SOTO, SANTOS-FIGUEROA, and URQUIZA-FLORES knowingly entered into an agreement to participate in a scheme and plan to obtain money from U.S. Bank intending to defraud the bank by knowingly making materially false statements.

As part of their scheme to commit bank fraud, they obtained stolen United States Treasury checks belonging to other persons. They also obtained counterfeit California driver's licenses and identification cards with names and addresses corresponding to the payee names and addresses on the stolen checks. Several of the driver's licenses and identification cards reflected the photographs of LAGUNAS-SOTO, SANTOS-FIGUEROA, and URQUIZA-FLORES.

Evidence would also have shown that they furthered their scheme by driving from southern California to Montana and Wyoming to negotiate the stolen U.S. Treasury checks at various U.S. Bank branches in exchange for cash. They entered U.S. bank branches and made false statements to bank employees by claiming to be the true payees of the checks. The checks presented to U.S. Bank contained the forged endorsements of the true payees. This scheme caused the financial institution to part with thousands of dollars and involved more than 50 victims.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that they will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, they do have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Montana Highway Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

 

 

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