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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Department of Justice

United States Attorney James R. Dedrick Eastern District of Tennessee


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn– Shanna Dee Ramirez, was sentenced today, in United States District Court, in Chattanooga, to serve 15 months in federal prison for participating in conspiracy to commit social security fraud, social security fraud, and false declarations before the grand jury investigating the hiring of illegal aliens by her former employer, Durrett Cheese Sales, Inc. She was also ordered to serve two (2) years of supervised release and pay $400 in special assessments (money that is paid into a victim fund). Ramirez was found guilty in August 2009, by a federal jury, after a trial in United States District Court, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

While working for Durrett Cheese Sales, Inc., in Manchester, Ramirez conspired with aliens who were not authorized to work in the United States, and others to commit social security fraud. The proof at trial showed that she was involved in hiring the ineligible aliens. She also prepared documentation knowing that it contained false information. During the course of the subsequent federal investigation, she perjured herself before the grand jury by falsely claiming not to know whether her boyfriend used fraudulent documents to get a job and whether he was an illegal alien. The maximum sentence for the charges against Ramirez was a total of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

In pronouncing sentence, United States District Judge Curtis L. Collier emphasized that the sentence was necessary to promote respect for the immigration laws, noting that those laws are being flagrantly violated. He stated that although people may legitimately disagree with those laws, they are the law and must be observed. He further emphasized the importance of people telling the truth when called to testify before the grand jury. The Court denied the defendant's request for a sentence below that called for under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

In related matters, ten of the illegally employed aliens were indicted by the grand jury for social security fraud, use of false identification documents to obtain employment and false statements concerning a matter within the jurisdiction of a federal agency. Four of these individuals have pleaded guilty to those charges and are awaiting sentencing. Five others are pending trial. The remaining defendant is a fugitive and is believed to have returned to her native Mexico.

This investigation was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office of Inspector General for the Social Security Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary S. Humble represented the United States.

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