New Jersey Woman Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison for Trafficking the Identities of Puerto Rican U.S. Citizens
A former resident of New Jersey was sentenced this week to serve 42 months in prison for her role in trafficking the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents.
Martina Montero-de-Ortiz, 52, formerly of Elizabeth, N.J., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpí in the District of Puerto Rico. In addition to Montero-de-Ortiz’s prison term, Judge Gelpí ordered her to forfeit $33,250 in illegal proceeds and ordered the removal of Montero-de-Ortiz from the United States to the Dominican Republic after the completion of her sentence.
On Aug. 15, 2012, Montero-de-Ortiz pleaded guilty in Puerto Rico to one count of conspiracy to commit identification fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling for financial gain.
Montero-de-Ortiz was charged in a superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Puerto Rico on March 22, 2012. To date, a total of 53 individuals have been charged for their roles in the identity trafficking scheme, and 25 defendants have pleaded guilty.
Court documents allege that individuals located in the Savarona area of Caguas, Puerto Rico (Savarona suppliers), obtained Puerto Rican identities and corresponding identity documents. Other conspirators located in various cities throughout the United States (identity brokers) allegedly solicited customers and sold Social Security cards and corresponding Puerto Rico birth certificates for prices ranging from $700 to $2,500 per set. The superseding indictment alleges that identity brokers ordered the identity documents from Savarona suppliers, on behalf of the customers, by making coded telephone calls. The conspirators are charged with using text messages, money transfer services and express, priority or regular U.S. mail to complete their illicit transactions.
Court documents allege that some of the conspirators assumed a Puerto Rican identity themselves and used that identity in connection with the trafficking operation. Their customers allegedly generally obtained the identity documents to assume the identity of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and to obtain additional identification documents, such as legitimate state driver’s licenses. Some customers allegedly obtained the documents to commit financial fraud and attempted to obtain a U.S. passport.
According to court documents, various identity brokers were operating in Rockford, Ill.; DeKalb, Ill.; Aurora, Ill.; Seymour, Ind.; Columbus, Ind.; Indianapolis; Hartford, Conn.; Clewiston, Fla.; Lilburn, Ga.; Norcross, Ga.; Salisbury, Md.; Columbus, Ohio; Fairfield, Ohio; Dorchester, Mass.; Lawrence, Mass.; Salem, Mass.; Worcester, Mass.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Nebraska City, Neb.; Elizabeth, N.J.; Burlington, N.C.; Hickory, N.C.; Hazelton, Pa.; Philadelphia; Houston; Abingdon, Va.; Albertville, Ala.; and Providence, R.I.
Montero-de-Ortiz admitted that she trafficked the identities of Puerto Rican U.S. citizens and corresponding identity documents in New Jersey. Montero-de-Ortiz is the 11th defendant to be sentenced in this case.
Source: Department of Justice
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