DALLAS–A North Texas mother and her adult daughter, along with seven other family and extended-family members, have been sentenced for their roles in a marriage fraud conspiracy that began more than 20 years ago.
Frances Sandoval, 61, and her daughter, Monica Morena, 32, were each sentenced last week by U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey to 65 months and 48 months, respectively, in federal prison. In addition, Sandoval was ordered to forfeit $45,850, and Morena was ordered to forfeit $21,710, the proceeds each received for participating in the conspiracy.
Both Sandoval and Morena pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with immigration documents and aggravated identity theft. They prepared and filed fraudulent applications for family unity, which included counterfeit birth certificates and fraudulent income tax returns and affidavits. They used the fraudulent documents to make it appear that aliens without lawful status in the U.S. were children of U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents. For identity documents for the “parents,” Sandoval and Moreno used actual naturalization certificates and copies of permanent resident cards that Sandoval obtained from her tax clients, without the clients’ knowledge or permission. Sandoval engaged in this scheme for more than 20 years and is responsible for more than 350 fraudulent filings. Moreno engaged in the scheme for more than 10 years.
Five of the seven remaining defendants – Adolfo Moreno, 24; Edward Moreno Jr., 30; Claudia Gonzalez, 35; Lidia Saldana, 40; and Cassandra Gonzalez, 23 – pleaded guilty to marriage fraud or conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Each was sentenced to two years of probation, to include 120 days of home confinement, and fines ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. Adolfo Moreno, Edward Moreno Jr., and Lidia Saldana are also Frances Sandoval’s children.
One defendant, Marsha Garcia, 53, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. She was observed creating a counterfeit birth certificate that she knew was going to be submitted in one of the fraudulent I-817 (Application for Family Unity Benefits) filings. She was sentenced to two years of probation, to include 120 days of home confinement and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
A federal jury convicted one defendant, Bartola Contreras, 55, who is Frances Sandoval’s husband, in March on one count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. He was sentenced to six months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.