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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Chicago Man Charged With Lying To Federal Authorities After Alleged Fake Abduction Report

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced a criminal complaint charging ALEJANDRO MARIO CORTES, 45, with one count of making false statements to federal authorities after allegedly claiming he was abducted from his home in Chicago, Illinois earlier this spring. CORTES was arrested yesterday and made his initial appearance today before Magistrate Judge Jon T. Huseby in U.S. District Court in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

According to a criminal complaint, in the early morning hours of April 17, 2018, law enforcement officers responded to a report by a snowplow driver that he discovered a man near Randolph Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota whose hands were bound and had duct tape over his mouth. Law enforcement officers located the individual, who later identified himself as CORTES.

CORTES told responding officers that he had been kidnapped from Chicago several days earlier by several unknown men. During the alleged abduction, CORTES claimed that a bag was put over his head, and he was held for several days and threatened with death. He further claimed that he was finally thrown out of a vehicle and into a snowbank after being told he would be killed if he contacted the police.

In a later meeting with FBI agents, CORTES further described his abduction, the circumstances surrounding his confinement, and details of the threats made against him and his family. CORTES claimed to have received threatening text messages, some in Spanish and some in English.  These text messages made reference to CORTES’ relatives and included photos of his residence in Chicago.

During follow up interviews with CORTES, he admitted to FBI investigators that he often used false identities to avoid detection after a prior DUI arrest and was living illegally in the United States.

According to the complaint, law enforcement traced the alleged threatening text messages to Pinger, an online texting application, and determined the IP address used to create the text messages belonged to an associate of CORTES. After an interview with investigators, the associate indicated that CORTES faked his own kidnapping in ordered to be considered a crime victim so he could obtain a visa to stay in the United States and gain citizenship. 

According to the complaint, CORTES asked the associate to facilitate the kidnapping, even asking the associate to allow him to stay in a storage facility with food, water, a sleeping bag and heater during his alleged abduction. To complete the abduction and kidnapping ruse, CORTES instructed the associate to place duct tape on his mouth and his wrists before dropping him off in St. Paul.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI and the Saint Paul Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Munoz-Kaphing is prosecuting the case.

 

Defendant Information:

ALEJANDRO MARIO CORTES, 45

Chicago, Ill.

Charged:

  • False Statement or Representation Made to an Agency of the United States, 1 count

 

 

 

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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

 

 

 

The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Component(s): 
Updated August 31, 2018