A.L. man given 3 1/2 years in prison for identity theft

Published 9:02 am Thursday, October 14, 2010

U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Magnuson on Wednesday sentenced a 32-year-old Albert Lea man to 42 months in prison for using the name and identity of a Texas man to help support a false claim of U.S. citizenship.

The sentence for Jose Luis Tapia Montiel came in federal court in St. Paul.

Montiel pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of making a false claim of citizenship on July 21.

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According to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release, Montiel, a citizen of Mexico, admitted in his plea agreement that he obtained and used the personal identification of a Texas man in 2000 without that person’s consent.

Under that name, he was convicted of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance in South Dakota, and when he was released from a federal prison sentence for the crime, he continued to use the identity of the man, even to complete I-9 employment eligibility verification forms. Through those forms — filled out on Dec. 14, 2006, and again on July 16, 2008 — Montiel allegedly claimed to be a U.S. citizen or a national of the United States and, thus, eligible for employment.

Earlier, Montiel had secured the birth date and Social Security number of the Texas man in order to obtain a Minnesota driver’s license, which, in part, was used to complete the employment eligibility documents.

Authorities pursued investigation of this matter after learning about the identity theft in August of 2009.

This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with assistance from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the Social Security Administration, and the U.S. Probation Office.