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Dec. 17, 2009


(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) - A Brownsville man and woman have been sentenced to prison for their roles in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States for purposes of prostitution, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.

Following a hearing that concluded late Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009, United States District Judge Hilda Tagle sentenced Juan Luis Coronado, aka Juan Hernandez, 37, and Lee Ann Zieger, 40, both of Brownsville, to 87 months and 24 months, respectively, for their roles in a scheme to illegally bring in aliens for purposes of prostitution.

Coronado pleaded guilty on Sept. 9, 2009, to one count of attempting to import a minor alien for prostitution purposes. In addition to the more than seven-year-term of imprisonment, Judge Tagle ordered Coronado to serve a three-year-term of supervised release. As part his supervised release conditions, Coronado will be required to register as a sex offender and follow other sex offender-related conditions, such as no unsupervised contact with minors. Coronado has been in custody since his arrest and will remain in custody to begin serving his 87-month prison term.

Zieger pleaded guilty on Sept.9, 2009, to two counts of harboring aliens for purposes of prostitution. She, too, will be required to serve a three-year-term of supervised release after her two-year prison term. Zieger was permitted to remain on bond pending the issuance of an order to surrender to the United States Marshals Service to begin serving her sentence.

Coronado previously admitted to directing a prostitute working for him to attempt to bring in a 14-year-old minor from Mexico to work for him as a prostitute in October 2008 and to bringing in and managing at least two other alien prostitutes. Zieger was found to have had an above average role in the transporting of the prostitutes, recruitment of one of the prostitutes, providing food and clothing and collecting money on at least one occasion. In total, the prostitution ring involved more than five people, which was considered by the court in determining the ultimate sentence imposed on Coronado.

The record of the case establishes that the prostitutes were housed in a Brownsville hotel where Coronado’s girlfriend, co-defendant Zieger, was the manager and provided him with rooms for use in the prostitution enterprise. Coronado used a room key labeled “Property Manager” during the course of the prostitution scheme which had been provided to him by Zieger.  In addition to working at the hotel, Coronado and Zieger took the prostitutes to work at Bike Fest at Padre Island last October, as well as downtown Brownsville.  Zieger’s sentence includes the court’s consideration of her communications with Coronado while he was in custody, in violation of her conditions of release.  

The case is the result of a 14-month investigation conducted by agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Leonard prosecuted the case.



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