printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

16 San Francisco Area Residents Charged With Passport Offenses Over Past Three Months


Press Statement
San Francisco, CA
February 26, 2009

Share

United States Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California
Joseph P. Russoniello, United States Attorney

Sixteen Bay Area residents were charged with federal passport offenses between December 2008 and February 2009, United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello and Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent in Charge Patrick Durkin announced.

The charges are part of the zero-tolerance policy towards imposters who try to obtain authentic American passports. More than 125 Bay Area residents have been similarly prosecuted since 2007.

According to court records and proceedings, the following 16 defendants all made misrepresentations of their identity on applications for passports:

  • Berta Aldana-Fernadz of San Francisco, is alleged to have possessed an authentic United States passport in a false name. Aldana-Fernadez was previously charged on December 5, and her case is in progress.
  • Efrain Molina of South San Francisco is alleged to have applied for a passport using another person’s birth certificate. Molina was arrested by DSS Special Agents on December 15, and his case is in progress.
  • Antonio Flores of San Jose Calif., was convicted of possessing a fraudulent Social Security Number when he applied for a passport. Flores previously self-surrendered to DSS Special Agents and was convicted on December 9. FLORES awaits sentencing.
  • Francisco Asis of Concord, Calif., was convicted of possessing a false driver’s license when he applied for a passport. Asis was previously arrested by DSS Special Agents and was sentenced to two years probation on December 10.
  • Gabriel Zuniga-Murrillo of San Lorenzo, Calif., was convicted of possessing a fraudulent birth certificate when he applied for a passport. Zuniga-Murrillo previously self-surrendered to DSS Special Agents and was sentenced to three years probation on December 16.
  • Victor Topete of Pittsburg, Calif., was convicted of possessing a false identification document when he applied for a passport. Topete was previously arrested by DSS Special Agents and was sentenced to three years probation on December 16.
  • Gloria Paniagua of Pacifica, Calif., was convicted of possessing a false identification document when she applied for a passport. Panigua was previously arrested by DSS Special Agents and was sentenced to one year probation on January 16.
  • Billy Joe Blu Degolyer of Pacifica, was convicted of selling his birth certificate to another person, who then used it to apply for a passport. Degolyer previously self-surrendered to DSS Special Agents and was convicted on January 22. Degolyer awaits sentencing.
  • Julio Kleber Lemos Souza of Daly City, Calif., is alleged to have applied for passport using another person’s birth certificate. Souza eluded arrest on February 2 and remains a DSS fugitive.
  • Rodigo Carvalho of San Francisco, is alleged to have applied for a passport using another person’s birth certificate. Carvalho eluded arrest on February 2, and remains a DSS fugitive.
  • Juan Ruiz-Gonzalez of Concord, Calif., is alleged to have applied for a passport using another person’s birth certificate. Ruiz-Gonzalez was arrested by DSS Special Agents on February 5, and his case is in progress.
  • Gabriel Soto-Magana of Santa Rosa, Calif., is alleged to have applied for a passport using another person’s birth certificate. Soto-Magana was arrested by Department of Homeland Security officers in San Diego on February 14, and is in the process of being transferred to federal court in San Francisco where his case is in progress.
  • Maria Floreano of Rohnert Park, Calif., is alleged to have applied for a passport using another person’s birth certificate. Floreano self-surrendered to DSS Special Agents on February 20, and her case is in progress.
  • Matthew Blake Morrow formerly of Concord, is alleged to have applied for a passport using counterfeit school records and false witness statements used to prove his identity. Morrow was Indicted on February 18 and is in the process of being transferred from Tennessee state prison to federal court in Oakland, where his case is in progress.
  • Victor Hugo Barajas of Redwood City, Calif., is alleged to have applied for a passport using another person’s birth certificate. Barajas was arrested by DSS Special Agents on February 24, and his case is in progress.
  • Miguel Peral Cervantes of Berkeley, Calif., is alleged to have applied for a passport using another person’s birth certificate. Cervantes has agreed to self-surrender to DSS Special Agents on February 26, and his case is in progress.

Each of the individuals listed above was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 1542, False Statement in Application for a Passport or 18 U.S.C. § 1028, Fraud in Connection with Identification Documents. The maximum statutory penalties for these offenses ranges from one to 10 years of imprisonment, although any sentence following conviction was or would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Wendy Thomas, Susan Knight and Maureen Bessette are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the cases with the assistance legal assistants Rawaty Yim and Rosario Calderon, and law clerks Christopher Judge, Kelly Breen, Jeslyn Miller, Jeremy Seymour, Patrick Sandys, Jin Im, Ginger Dole and Jennifer Middleton. The prosecutions are the result of an ongoing investigation by the United States Diplomatic Security Service.

Anyone with information about false or fraudulently issued passports or visas, or the whereabouts of the above fugitives, is encouraged to contact DSS at (415) 705-1176.

These charges contain only allegations against an individual and the defendants must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.

Contact:
Jack Gillund
U.S. Attorney’s Office

415-436-6599
e-mail Jack.Gillund@usdoj.gov.



Back to Top
Sign-in

Do you already have an account on one of these sites? Click the logo to sign in and create your own customized State Department page. Want to learn more? Check out our FAQ!

OpenID is a service that allows you to sign in to many different websites using a single identity. Find out more about OpenID and how to get an OpenID-enabled account.