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Press Release

Sacramento Couple Indicted For Naturalization Fraud And Other Crimes Related To Fraudulent Use Of U.S. Citizen’s Identity

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California
Husband charged with Illegal Voting, Aggravated Identity Theft, and Passport Fraud

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a nine-count indictment today against Gustavo Araujo Lerma, 62, and his wife Maria Eva Velez, 64, both of Sacramento, United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced. Araujo is charged with aggravated identity theft, passport fraud, conspiracy to commit unlawful procurement of naturalization and citizenship, and five counts of voting by an alien. Velez is charged with conspiring to commit unlawful procurement of citizenship and unlawful procurement of citizenship.


According to court documents, Araujo committed passport fraud by applying for U.S. passports in the assumed identity of “Hiram Enrique Velez,” a now deceased U.S. citizen whose identity Araujo fraudulently used for over 25 years. Araujo allegedly used the false identity to commit various other offenses, including conspiring to obtain legal permanent resident status and ultimately U.S. citizenship for Velez, his wife. Although he and Velez had previously married in Mexico, they married again in Los Angeles in 1992 using Araujo’s fraudulent U.S. citizen identity, which allowed Velez to illegally obtain status as the purported wife of a U.S. citizen. Araujo also committed illegal alien voting by using the identity of Hiram Velez in numerous federal, state and local elections, including the five charged in the indictment. Araujo’s false representations concerning his citizenship in connection with his voting activity forms the basis for the aggravated identity theft count alleged in the indictment. 


This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine T. Lydon is prosecuting the case.


Araujo's initial appearance on a criminal complaint was on October 16, 2017, and he will be arraigned on the indictment on October 30 2017.


If convicted, Araujo faces a maximum statutory penalty of fifteen years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Velez faces a maximum statutory penalty of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated October 26, 2017

Identity Theft
Press Release Number: 2:17-cr-195-JAM