Defendants Plead Guilty To Conspiracy And Identity Theft Charges
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan
Eddie Balderramas, Michael Balderramas, and Michelle Martinez-Marte Assisted Illegal Aliens in Obtaining Michigan Driver’s Licenses in the Identities of Other Individuals
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Michelle Martinez-Marte, 37, of Rhode Island, Eddie Michael Balderramas, 51, and his son, Michael James Balderramas, 28, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, recently pled guilty to a federal indictment charging conspiracy to transfer identification documents and the means of identification of others to obtain Michigan driver’s licenses. According to the plea agreements, between at least April 4, 2016, and July 20, 2017, defendants conspired to assist illegal aliens, mostly from the Dominican Republic, in obtaining Michigan driver’s licenses using the identities of others. Martinez-Marte acquired Puerto Rican birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and social security account number cards in the names of actual individuals from a source in Puerto Rico. Martinez-Marte then referred the illegal aliens to Eddie Balderramas. Either Eddie Balderramas, or his son Michael Balderramas, would travel to New York City and transport the illegal aliens to Michigan where they would be harbored at a home in Kalamazoo. Eddie Balderramas produced false leases, paystubs, and other documents to make it appear as if the illegal aliens were truly Michigan residents. Eddie and Michael Balderramas would then transport the illegal aliens to Michigan Secretary of State Offices and would use the Puerto Rican documents, the social security numbers, and the counterfeit documents of Michigan residency, to acquire an authentic Michigan driver’s license for the illegal aliens using the names and personal identifiers of other individuals. The illegal aliens paid Eddie Balderramas and Michelle Martinez-Marte for their assistance so that they could live in the country under the names of others and avoid detection by immigration authorities.
Eddie Balderramas will be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids on January 22, 2019. Michael Balderramas will be sentenced on January 28, 2019, and Martinez-Marte on February 1, 2019. All defendants face up to 15 years’ imprisonment on the conspiracy charge. Martinez-Marte and Eddie Balderramas both face an additional penalty of 2 years’ imprisonment for their aggravated identity theft convictions, which sentence must be served consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed for the conspiracy conviction. Finally, Martinez-Marte faces up to 2 years’ imprisonment for her additional conviction of illegally reentering the United States after her prior removal from the country.
The investigation of the case is being handled by the Department of Homeland Security- Homeland Security Investigations, Grand Rapids; Michigan Department of State-Office of Investigative Services; Southwest Enforcement Team; Michigan State Police; and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant United States Attorney Ronald M. Stella is handling the prosecution.
Updated September 20, 2018