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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Illegal Alien Residing in Sacramento Sentenced for Aggravated Identity Theft, Passport Fraud, and Voting by an Alien

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Today, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez sentenced Gustavo Araujo Lerma, 64, a Sacramento resident, to three years and nine months in prison for aggravated identity theft, passport fraud, and voting by an alien, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

“In 1992, Araujo Lerma began fraudulently using the identity of a living United States citizen. He used that identity to commit a long list of other crimes, lying to numerous local, state and federal agencies, and abusing government programs,” U.S. Attorney Scott stated. “Today’s sentence serves to protect the public’s confidence in the immigration system, passport security, and federal elections and will deter others from perpetrating this type of fraud.”

“Today’s sentencing sends a strong message that the Diplomatic Security Service, in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s office, is committed to successfully prosecuting those criminals who perpetrate U.S. passport fraud,” said Matthew Perlman, Special Agent in Charge of DSS’s San Francisco Field Office.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Araujo Lerma was born in Mexico in 1955. In the early 1990s he acquired and began fraudulently using the identity of a United States citizen named Hiram Velez. Araujo Lerma unlawfully obtained U.S. passports with the stolen identity and used the passports to fly back and forth to his hometown in Leon, Mexico. He lied on immigration applications to obtain legal permanent resident status and eventually United States citizenship for his Mexico-born wife and two children. In addition, he voted in numerous federal elections over the past 20 years. After a three-day trial, a jury convicted Araujo Lerma on all counts.

This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine T. Lydon and Shea J. Kenny prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Identity Theft
Immigration
Press Release Number: 
2:17-cr-195 JAM
Updated December 11, 2019