On Thursday, October 26, 2017, it was announced that a Sacramento couple had been charged with naturalization fraud. 62-year-old Gustavo Araujo Lerma and his wife, 64-year-old Maria Eva Velez, were indictment on Thursday. Araujo was charged with aggravated identity theft, passport fraud, conspiracy to commit unlawful procurement of naturalization and citizenship, and five counts of voting by an alien.
Velez has been charged with conspiring to commit unlawful procurement of citizenship and unlawful procurement of citizenship. Court documents claim that Araujo committed passport fraud by applying for United States passports using the identity of Hiram Enrique Velez, who is now decreased. Araujo is accused of using the man’s identity for more than 25 years.
It is alleged that Araujo used the man’s identity to commit numerous offenses, including conspiring to obtain legal permanent resident status and eventually U.S. citizenship for his wife. While the two were originally married in Mexico, they married once again in Los Angeles in 1992. They did so using Araujo’s fraudulent U.S. citizen identity, allowing Velez to illegally obtain status as the supposed wife of a United States citizen.
Araujo also violated the law by using the identity of Hiram Velez to vote in several federal, state and local elections. The government believes that the false representations in connection with his voting activity form the basis for the aggravated identity theft count in the indictment. Araujo is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on October 30, 2017.
If convicted, Araujo will face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. Velez faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. Additional details can be found here. At this point in time, the defendants remain innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.