Federal prosecutors in San Francisco announced today they filed passport or visa fraud charges against 17 Bay Area and Northern California residents in the past six months.
U.S. Attorney Joseph Russoniello said, “The charges are part of the zero-tolerance policy towards imposters who try to obtain or use authentic American passports and entry visas.”
The 13 men and four women were charged between April and September with either making a false statement on a passport application or providing fraudulent identification documents.
Ten have pleaded guilty or been convicted in federal court and eight of those were sentenced to one or two years of probation.
Another convicted defendant, Bruce Marshall, 35, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco on Aug. 27 to nine months in jail.
Marshall pleaded guilty to falsely altering his own passport to contain the name Francois Delacroix. He admitted living under that identity and working as a computer programmer for IBM Corp. and eBAy Inc. in San Jose under that name for several years.
The 10th convicted defendant, Amir Rashidifar of San Jose, is awaiting sentencing in federal court in San Jose after having pleaded guilty to applying for a passport with a counterfeit birth certificate.
Another defendant, Christina Chavez of Walnut Creek, was accused of applying for a passport with another person’s birth certificate, but was allowed to enter a pretrial diversion program.
Three other defendants are awaiting trials and three are fugitives.
One of the fugitives, Wandell Santana, 33, of San Bruno, is allegedly a Brazilian citizen who previously overstayed a tourist visa and then was deported in 2002 for trying to re-enter the United States without a valid visa, according to prosecution documents.
He was charged in April with applying for a passport at a San Bruno post office last year by using a birth certificate in the name of another man who was born in Puerto Rico.
Santana was granted bail on a $25,000 bond by U.S. Magistrate Wayne Brazil of Oakland, but when he failed to show up for a hearing in San Francisco in May, another magistrate issued a no-bail arrest warrant.