3 people sentenced in Houston for their roles in employing illegal aliens, aggravated identity theft

Two Salvadorian men, who were residing in Houston, were ordered to federal prison Friday following their convictions on all counts related to a conspiracy to employ 10 or more illegal aliens within a 12-month period, and aggravated theft. A third man involved in the conspiracy was also sentenced Friday.

These sentencings were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez, Southern District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations.

Rudy Alexander Martinez, 36, and Israel Arquimides Martinez, 44, were convicted by a federal jury April 8, 2016, following a two-week trial and after about six hours of deliberation.  Both were convicted of conspiracy to employ and employing illegal aliens, encouraging and inducing illegal aliens to enter and reside in the United States, and conspiracy to do same; they were also convicted of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory two-year consecutive sentence added to any other sentence imposed. Also sentenced March 31 was Ceasar Santiago Arroyo, 51, of Houston, who pleaded guilty to the conspiracy.

On March 31, U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon ordered Rudy Martinez and Israel Martinez to serve 94 and 87 months, respectively. Rudy Martinez received 70 months for the conspiracy and immigration offenses, plus an additional 24 months for identity theft. Israel Martinez received 63 months plus 24 months for identity theft. Arroyo was ordered to serve a 27-month term of imprisonment.

At the hearing, the court found that both Rudy Martinez and Israel Martinez played an aggravating role in committing the offense as supervisors or managers. In handing down the sentence, Judge Harmon noted that the offense involved more than 100 aliens. Judge Harmon also found that Rudy Martinez obstructed justice by falsely testifying under oath and threatening a witness.  Since they are not U.S. citizens, both Salvadorans are expected to face deportation proceedings following their release from prison.

Both defendants were employees of Waste Management and worked at one of the company’s Houston locations. Rudy Martinez was a commercial route manager; Israel Martinez was the residential operations lead driver. From on or around July 30, 2008, and continuing until on or around April 24, 2012, both men conspired to hire and continued to employ aliens that they knew were unauthorized to work in the U.S. at the company.

Federal law requires employers to hire only U.S. citizens and aliens who are authorized to work here. However, the defendants and others hired manual laborers with little or no regard to their legal work status. Internal audits were conducted, after which the defendants and co-conspirators failed to take corrective measures to ensure the employing company hired workers authorized to work in the country. They also continued to employ illegal aliens after receiving information, in some cases from the aliens themselves, which indicated the person was not authorized to work in the U.S.

The jury also heard that the defendants encouraged illegal aliens to obtain false documentation and assigned false identities to illegal aliens. In some cases, they also provided the illegal aliens with employment documents related to the false identity the aliens assumed so they could remain employed as helpers at the waste disposal company’s Houston location.

The individuals whose identities were assumed did not authorize or even know their identities were assumed by these illegal aliens at the direction and encouragement of the conspirators. These individuals were often former employees of the company, or individuals who had applied for employment but were never hired. Their information was stolen from documentation and records they executed in connection with their application for employment. The defendants and their co-conspirators entered these individuals’ information into the payroll system and the illegal alien received a paycheck for their work under the other individual’s name.

On or around Jan. 31, 2012, the defendants and their co-conspirators “fired” at least 10 helpers they knew to be unauthorized aliens purportedly because the aliens failed to supply documentation establishing they were legally present and authorized to work in the U.S. During the “termination” process, the defendants informed and encouraged unauthorized aliens to assume the identity of actual U.S. citizens or individuals who had legal status to reside and work here. They also informed illegal aliens they could return to work if they got “good papers” belonging to other individuals. Following their termination, the defendants and their co-conspirators assigned false identities to the terminated aliens and assisted them with obtaining related identifiers to use for employment and payroll purposes. The defendants then “rehired” at least 10 aliens under their assumed identities.

Rudy and Israel Martinez will remain in federal custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

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