Crime - Sacto 911

Sacramento couple accused of using assumed identity to obtain citizenship

A Sacramento couple accused of using a false identity to obtain U.S. citizenship has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

The nine-count indictment was returned Thursday in Sacramento against Gustavo Araujo Lerma, 62, and his wife, Maria Eva Velez, 64. Araujo is charged with aggravated identity theft, passport fraud, conspiracy to commit unlawful procurement of naturalization and citizenship, and five counts of voting by an alien, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release. Velez is charged with conspiring to commit unlawful procurement of citizenship and unlawful procurement of citizenship.

Araujo allegedly committed passport fraud by applying for U.S. passports using the assumed identity of a deceased U.S. citizen. He used the false identity for more than 25 years to commit various other offenses, including conspiring to obtain legal permanent resident status and ultimately U.S. citizenship for his wife, according to the news release.

Although Velez and Araujo had previously married in Mexico, they married again in Los Angeles in 1992, using Araujo’s fraudulent U.S. citizen identity, which allowed Velez to illegally obtain status as the purported wife of a U.S. citizen, the news release said.

Araujo also is accused of using the identity of Hiram Velez to vote in numerous federal, state and local elections, including the five charged in the indictment. His alleged false representations of his citizenship in connection with his voting activity is the basis for the aggravated identity theft count, the news release said.

Araujo appeared in court on a criminal complaint Oct. 16 and will be arraigned on the indictment on Oct. 30.

The case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Service.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy