Former Salvadoran Military Officer Sentenced For Perjury And Concealing Information From U.S. Government
BOSTON – A Salvadoran man residing in Everett who faces charges of crimes against humanity and state terror in Spain was sentenced today for immigration fraud and perjury in connection with false statements he made on immigration forms in order to remain in the United States.
Inocente Orlando Montano, 70, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to 21 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release and a special assessment of $600. Montano previously agreed to be deported from the U.S. upon completion of his prison term. A judicial order of removal has been secured, and he will be removed from the U.S. to El Salvador following his sentence. In September 2012, Montano pleaded guilty to three counts of immigration fraud and three counts of perjury.
The crimes stemmed from false statements Montano made to obtain Temporary Protective Status (TPS), a benefit available to foreign nationals, permitting them to remain in the U.S. if they are unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, the temporary effects of an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. In 2002, Montano was present in the U.S. and, on several occasions thereafter, applied for and obtained TPS. On his applications, Montano falsified the date on which he entered the country because he knew that if he stated the actual date, he would have been ineligible for TPS.
Montano, a citizen of El Salvador, served in the Salvadoran military for nearly 30 years, rising to the rank of colonel. From 1989-1992, the final years of a decade-long civil war, he served as the Vice Minister for Public Security. After the civil war, in 1993, the U.N. Truth Commission on El Salvador found that there was substantial evidence that Colonel Montano was part of the small core group of elite officers responsible for the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and the housekeeper’s daughter. Those murders, commonly referred to as the Jesuit massacre, constitute one of the most notorious human rights crimes in El Salvador’s history. The U.N. Truth Commission Report also named Colonel Montano as one of two top officials who covered up the military high command’s role in the Jesuit massacre by pressuring lower-level soldiers not to mention orders from above in their testimony to the Salvadoran court officially charged with investigating the crime.
According to the Government’s memorandum, Colonel Montano left El Salvador at a time when events in El Salvador made it appear that high level military officers would be prosecuted for their alleged role in the Jesuit massacre. Prosecutors asserted that Colonel Montano traveled to the U.S., at least in part, to distance himself from authorities in El Salvador that could prosecute him for his alleged role in the massacre.
“Today’s sentence sends a strong message that those alleged to have engaged in human rights abuses overseas should not expect to hide in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “We will continue to prosecute these cases fully to protect the integrity of our immigration system and to discourage those involved in wrongdoing in their home countries from seeking refuge here.”
“Today’s sentence emphasizes the fact that the United States will never be a safe haven for those who engage in alleged criminal acts in their home countries,” said Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. “I applaud the efforts of the skilled and dedicated special agents and federal prosecutors who were instrumental in bringing this case to a successful resolution.”
U.S. Attorney Ortiz and SAC Foucart made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John A. Capin of Ortiz’s Antiterrorism and National Security Unit.