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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 3, 2016

Identity Thief Who Used Citizen’s Identity to Try to Obtain Passport Convicted

HOUSTON – A 37-year-old undocumented immigrant who had been using the identity of a United States citizen for almost a decade has been convicted, announced U.S Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Martina Azucena Melendrez Acevez  was caught when she attempted to use the other woman’s identity to obtain a passport. Today, she pleaded guilty to making false claims to U.S. citizenship and making false statements in a passport application.

Since 2004, Acevez had been using the Social Security card and birth certificate of a 29-year-old Nebraska woman who was born in Houston to obtain driver’s licenses, identification cards and employment in the United States.

In late 2014, Aceves applied for a passport with the Department of State using the victim’s identity. Authorities discovered her true identity by comparing her fingerprints to those provided when obtaining driver’s licenses and identification cards in her real name prior to 2004. In addition, the photographs on her passport application as well as the driver’s licenses and identification cards in her real name and in the name of the victim all matched.

Authorities tracked down the mother, father, two siblings, two children and common-law husband of the victim who all confirmed Aceves was an imposter. In fact, Aceves provided the victim’s mother’s information in her passport application.

In connection with that passport application, Aceves submitted documents which she claimed established that she attended Sutton Elementary in the Houston Independent School District (HISD) under the name of the victim. However, HISD had no record of either the victim or Aceves ever attending and the photographic records of Sutton Elementary School contained no record of Aceves or the victim. 

Furthermore, Customs and Border Protection had a record of the victim returning to the United States after spending time abroad. Those records further established that Aceves was an imposter. 

The victim in the case has three children residing in Mexico and has been attempting to obtain a passport herself in order to bring her children to the United States. Due to the actions of Aceves, this process has been stalled and the victim has not seen her children for more than two years. 

U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes accepted the plea today and has set sentencing for Nov, 28, 2016. At that time, Aceves faces up to 10 years in federal prison. She will remain in custody pending that hearing.

The Department of State Diplomatic - Security Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Goldman is prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Identity Theft
Component(s): 
Updated October 3, 2016