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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 8, 2016

Jury Convicts Two in Identity Theft and Illegal Employment Conspiracy

HOUSTON - A federal jury in Houston has convicted two El Salvadorian nationals both residing in Houston on all counts as charged in a conspiracy to employ 10 or more unauthorized aliens within a 12-month period, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.

The federal jury sitting in Houston returned guilty verdicts against Rudy Alexander Martinez, 36, and Israel Arquimides Martinez, 44, this afternoon following a two-week trial and approximately six hours of deliberation. Both were convicted of the conspiracy as well as employing unauthorized aliens, encouraging and inducing undocumented aliens to come to reside in the United States and conspiracy to do same as well as aggravated identity theft.

The jury heard that both defendants were employees of a waste disposal company and worked at one of the company’s locations in Houston. Rudy Martinez was a commercial route manager, while Israel Martinez was the residential operations lead driver. From on or around July 30, 2008, and continuing until on or around April 24, 2012, the defendants conspired to hire and continued to employ aliens they knew were unauthorized to work in the U.S. at the company.

Federal law requires employers to hire only U.S. citizens and aliens who are authorized to work here. However, the defendants and others hired manual laborers with little or no regard to their legal work status. Internal audits were conducted, after which the defendants and co-conspirators failed to take corrective measures to ensure the employing company hired workers authorized to work in the country. They also continued to employ undocumented aliens after receiving information, in some cases from the aliens themselves, which would indicate the person was not authorized to work in the U.S. 

The jury also heard that the defendants encouraged undocumented aliens to obtain false documentation and assigned false identities to undocumented aliens. In some cases, they also provided the undocumented aliens with employment documents related to the false identity the aliens assumed so they could remain employed as helpers at the waste disposal company’s Houston location.  

The individuals whose identities were assumed did not authorize or even know their identities were assumed by these undocumented aliens at the direction and encouragement of the conspirators. These individuals were often former employees of the companies, or individuals who had applied for employment but were never hired. Their information was stolen from documentation and records they executed in connection with their application for employment. The defendants and their co-conspirators would enter these individuals’ information into the payroll system and the undocumented alien would receive a paycheck for their work under the other individual’s name.

On or around Jan. 31, 2012, the defendants and their co-conspirators “fired” at least 10 helpers they knew to be unauthorized aliens purportedly because the aliens failed to supply documentation establishing they were legally present and authorized to work in the U.S. During the “termination” process, the defendants informed and encouraged unauthorized aliens to assume the identity of actual U.S. citizens or individuals who had legal status to reside and work here. They also informed undocumented aliens they could come back to work if they got “good papers” belonging to other individuals. Following their termination, the defendants and their co-conspirators assigned false identities to the terminated aliens and assisted them with obtaining related identifiers to use for employment and payroll purposes. The defendants then “rehired” at least 10 aliens under their assumed identities.

For conspiracy to encourage and induce aliens to reside or encouraging or inducing aliens to reside in the United States, both face up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. For the unlawful employment of unauthorized aliens charges or the conspiracy to so, they also face up to five years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine. In addition, the conviction of aggravated identity theft also carries a mandatory 24 months which must be served consecutively to any other prison term imposed. Sentencing is July 29, 2016. 

Following the convictions, the court ordered the defendants into custody. 

Agents assigned to Homeland Security Investigations - Worksite Enforcement Unit conducted the investigation leading to the charges. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Casey N. MacDonald and Douglas Davis are prosecuting the case.

 

Topic(s): 
Identity Theft
Immigration
Labor & Employment
Component(s): 
Updated April 11, 2016