Mexican national indicted for using deceased American’s identity
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 76-year-old Mexican national has been charged with making false statements in an application for a U.S. passport and theft of Social Security benefits, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Alberto Betancourth Valdes allegedly used the identity of an American citizen for more than two decades. A federal grand jury returned the indictment today. He is expected to make his initial appearance before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future.
The criminal complaint originally filed in the case indicates Valdes submitted a renewal application for a U.S. passport by representing himself as a U.S. citizen from Texas. The passport application and documents were sent to the National Passport Center in Irving and subsequently referred to the fraud prevention unit, according to the charges. The documents were valid, according to the allegations, but the actual person had passed away in 1952.
According to the indictment, Valdes had previously been deported in 1975. He allegedly used the citizen’s identity to obtain Social Security benefits he would not have been entitled to receive under his true identity. Authorities took him into custody when he attempted to re-enter the United States using the fraudulently-obtained U.S. passport issued in the victim’s name, according to the charges.
If convicted, Valdez faces up to 10 years in federal prison for making a false statement in an application for a passport as well as five years for Social Security benefits fraud. Each count also carries a possible $250,000 fine, upon conviction.
Social Security Administration - Office of the Inspector General, Customs and Border Protection and Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Marin and Robert Thorpe are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.