Identity Thief Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison In What Judge Called “Extraordinary” Case
SAN DIEGO – A Mexican national who stole the identity of a California-born farmworker and impersonated him for almost three decades – even claiming to be the father of some of his victim’s children - was sentenced in federal court today to 184 months in prison in what is believed to be the longest sentence of its kind.
Ramiro Plascencia-Orozco was charged in 2011 with two counts of aggravated identity theft and two counts of illegal reentry after deportation for acts that occurred in 2008 and 2011. He was convicted by a federal jury in August 2014 of all four counts after less than four hours of deliberation.
According to court records, Plascencia has used at least 35 different aliases over the course of four decades, but none more prolifically than that of Alberto Jose Del Muro-Guerrero, a man he met once through a mutual friend in the 1980s. Plascencia also has been removed from the United States more than 20 times and has been prosecuted 10 times for alien smuggling, illegal reentry, identity theft, false claim to U.S. Citizenship, drug trafficking and other crimes by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. At sentencing today, Plascencia still continued to assert that he is Del Muro.
U.S. District Judge John Houston said the long sentence was warranted in part because of Plascencia’s extensive criminal history, the decades-long impact of the crime on the victim and his family, and the defendant’s lack of remorse.
“The court finds the seriousness of identity theft is extraordinary in this case,” Judge Houston.
Later in the hearing, Judge Houston scolded Plascencia, speaking of the impact of his crimes on the real Del Muro. “Throughout the last 30 years he (Del Muro) has not had the opportunity to advance his life for himself and his family. He could not get a good job because of the criminal record that you imposed upon him. Because he couldn’t get a good job, it’s only reasonable to infer that his kids could not get a better education, that he could not have a better lifestyle for he and his family, because he was limited and handcuffed by you, because you stripped him of his identity throughout his entire adult life, to the benefit of yourself, and to his detriment - his extreme detriment.”
The judge criticized Plascencia for his legal maneuverings, including numerous instances in which he fired or pressed for the removal of almost all of his defense attorneys over the course of his criminal career in an attempt to delay proceedings.
“Unfortunately what a transcript in this case cannot reveal is your cavalier demeanor in court proceedings, demonstrating and telegraphing to this court that you understand what’s going on here and that you understand that you’re manipulating this entire system of justice, holding this very system hostage to your whim…for your own reasons,” Judge Houston said.
“I am extremely gratified by this sentence, which could not be more appropriate for a man who not only stole a name but hijacked a life for three decades,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “We hope that with this sentence, Mr. Del Muro’s nightmare will be over and he will never again be forced to share his name with an audacious, calculating thief with no regard for anyone but himself.”
While arguing for a significant sentence, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marietta Geckos told the court: “We know that prison time cannot replace the years Mr. Del Muro has lost, the anxiety he has suffered, and the inconvenience he and his family endured. But today, for everyone here, we can say that there is one Mr. Del Muro, and he is not here today. Plascencia-Orozco is a serial violator of our immigration laws and is an unremorseful imposter. No U.S. citizen should have to fight this hard to save his own name. This must end.”
According to a statement read to the court by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Finn on behalf of Del Muro: “I want this to end, and for him (the defendant) to leave me alone, and I want him to get enough time in jail so that he doesn't come out and reuse my name. He only gets 3-4 years each time and as soon as he is released he uses my identity. Please do me a favor of putting an end to this. Have him stop bothering me and my family. It happens too often. Please give the maximum punishment you can since he deserves whatever you decide.”
According to court documents, Plascencia was arrested August 2, 2011 at the San Ysidro Port of Entry when he attempted to enter the United States through the pedestrian lane. He presented a U.S. birth certificate bearing the name Alberto Jose Del Muro, but a fingerprint inspection indicated that he was a Mexican citizen with no legal right to enter the U.S.
This attempted reentry occurred about one month after he had been deported by an immigration judge for entering the U.S. illegally yet again. The trial also included Plascensia’s 2008 illegal entry, and his illicit use of Del Muro’s documents at that time.
During trial, the real Alberto Jose Del Muro-Guerrero testified that he met Plascencia at a bar through a friend. The next day, Del Muro said, he ran into Plascencia in the street. Plascencia complained that their mutual friend had left him stranded, so Del Muro took Plascencia to his house and allowed him to sleep one night in his car.
Del Muro said Plascencia had asked for the car keys so he could listen to the radio. The next day, Del Muro found his car and Plascencia missing, along with his wallet, driver’s license, birth certificate and social security card, which he kept in the glove compartment on work days.
During his testimony, Del Muro explained that he worked in the fields and could be stopped by immigration authorities at any time, so he kept his identification documents at the ready, in the glove compartment of his car. He said he could not keep them in his pocket because they would get wet while working in the fields. Del Muro immediately reported his car stolen to police. His 1969 Ford Montego was later found in Oregon, but he would later realize he’d suffered a loss that proved far worse.
According to court transcripts, Del Muro testified that he started getting tickets after that, and his license was suspended. “I would go the Department of Motor Vehicles, and then the first thing that would show up would be his picture.” Even now, Del Muro has been unable to get a California Driver’s license.
Plascencia took the stand in his own defense. In addition to the wholesale adoption of the true Del Muro’s relatives - including names of parents, grandparents, children, spouse, date of birth, and city of birth - the defendant claimed that the true Mr. Del Muro – the victim in this case - had actually stolen the defendant’s wife/woman, and that some or all of the Del Muro children were fathered by the defendant.
According to the government’s sentencing memorandum, “The suffering caused by defendant Plascencia on the Del Muro family is palpable as they have been dragged through litigation for almost three decades because of defendant Plascencia’s identity theft.”
|Ramiro Plascencia-Orozco||Age: 60||Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico|
Two counts (2 & 4) Aggravated Identity Theft, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1028A – required penalty two years per count consecutive to any other term of imprisonment.
Two counts (1 & 3) Illegal Entry after Deportation, in violation of Title 8, U.S.C., Sec. 1326 (a)(b)–, Maximum penalties 20 years in prison, $250,000 fine.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection