US Attorney – Former Salvadoran Defense Minister Charged With Immigration Violations

LAWFUEL.COM – Legal News Daily –
R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations, Miami Field Office (ICE), announced that defendant Jose Guillermo Garcia, the former Minister of Defense for the country of El Salvador, has been charged in a two-count Indictment with using a passport procured by false statement, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a), and making a materially false statement to a federal officer, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2). The Indictment was unsealed this past Thursday, February 19, 2009.

According to the Indictment, the defendant used an El Salvadoran passport at Miami International Airport on July 7, 2006 in an attempt to enter the United States. The defendant had obtained the passport after falsely telling the Government of El Salvador that he had lost his previously issued passport. In fact, however, his prior passport had not been lost, but had been seized by United States immigration authorities.

In addition, the Indictment alleges that on the same day, July 7, 2006, the defendant falsely stated to United States immigration authorities at Miami International Airport that he had obtained the second El Salvadoran passport after his attorney had told him that his first passport, which had been seized by U.S. immigration authorities, had been lost by those authorities. According to the defendant, his attorney had told him that because the immigration authorities had lost the passport they had seized from him, it was permissible for him to obtain a new passport to travel to El Salvador. The Indictment alleges that the defendant knew this statement was false.

The case will be heard by U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment for using a passport procured by false statement, and five years’ imprisonment for making a materially false statement to a federal officer.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Axelrod and Adam Fels.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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