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July 12, 2011

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Mexican National Indicted for Passport Fraud and Making a False Claim of US Citizenship

(McALLEN, Texas) – Joel Alonso Rivera-Martinez, 37, of Mexico, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for passport fraud (making a false statement in a passport application) and making a false claim to citizenship, U.S Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Rivera’s prosecution began with the filing of a federal criminal complaint following his arrest. According to the allegations in the complaint, Rivera, an illegal alien, executed an application for a U.S. passport at a U.S. post office in McAllen on Jan. 28, 2009. On the application, Rivera allegedly lied by claiming to be another person who actually was a U.S. citizen and presenting a birth certificate and Texas driver’s license in the name of the citizen. On June 1, 2009, Rivera fraudulently obtained a U.S. passport. On Nov. 23, 2009, the real U.S. citizen applied for a passport but was unable to obtain one because, according to allegations in the complaint, Rivera had already obtained a passport under that name. Rivera went on to use that passport at least 45 times to cross from Mexico into the U.S. until his arrest on June 17, 2011, in Edinburg, Texas. The grand jury returned the two-count indictment today.

Following a June 23, 2011, detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter E. Ormsby ordered Rivera to remain in custody with no bond pending trial.

If convicted, Rivera could be sentenced to up to 15 years in federal prison with no parole on the passport fraud charge and up to three years imprisonment on the false claim to citizenship charge, as well as a fine of up to $250,000 on each charge. Rivera, as an alleged undocumented alien, would also be subject to deportation from the U.S. 

The U.S. Department of State - Diplomatic Security Service with the assistance of the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations and the Office of the Inspector General’s Office of Investigations for the Social Security Administration investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Sully is prosecuting the case. 

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.