Three Sentenced to Prison in Identity Theft and Illegal Employment Conspiracy
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON – Two El Salvadorian nationals who were residing in Houston have been ordered to federal prison following their convictions on all counts related to a conspiracy to employ 10 or more unauthorized aliens within a 12-month period, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. A federal jury convicted Rudy Alexander Martinez, 36, and Israel Arquimides Martinez, 44, on April 8, 2016, 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. Also sentenced today was Ceasar Santiago Arroyo, 51, of Houston, who pleaded guilty to the conspiracy.
Today, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon ordered Rudy Martinez and Israel Martinez to serve 94 and 87 months, respectively. Rudy Martinez received 70 months for the conspiracy and immigration offenses as well as an additional 24 months for the identity theft which must be served consecutively. Israel Arquimides Martinez will serve 63 months plus the consecutive 24 months. Arroyo was ordered to serve a 27-month-term of imprisonment. At the hearing, the court found that both Rudy Martinez and Israel Martinez played an aggravating role in the commission of the offense as supervisors or managers. In handing down the sentence, Judge Harmon noted that the offense involved more than 100 aliens. Judge Harmon also found that Rudy Martinez obstructed justice by testifying falsely under oath and threatening a witness. Not U.S. citizens, both are expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.
At trial, the jury heard that both defendants were employees of Waste Management and worked at one of the company’s locations in Houston. RudyMartinez 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.
Rudy and Israel Martinez have been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Agents assigned to Homeland Security Investigations - Worksite Enforcement Unit conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Casey N. MacDonald and Douglas Davis prosecuted the case.
Updated March 31, 2017
Labor & Employment