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Guatemalan man working in Iowa sentenced to prison following deportation and document fraud

CEDAR RAPIDS – A man who had been deported, illegally returned to the United States, and then used false identification documents to obtain a job was sentenced today to more than four months in federal prison.

Jose Mariano Choch-Quiej, age 32, a citizen of Guatemala illegally present in the United States and residing in Postville, Iowa, received the prison term after a July 1, 2019, guilty plea to one count of illegal reentry into the United States.

In a plea agreement, Choch-Quiej admitted he had previously been deported from the United States in August 2007 and that he illegally reentered the United States without the permission of the United States government. When he was found in 2007, Choch-Quiej initially claimed to be a Mexican citizen to avoid being returned to Guatemala. In May 2019, immigration agents found Choch-Quiej at the Winneshiek County Jail in Decorah, Iowa, following his arrest for driving with a suspended license.

Choch-Quiej also admitted he used a fraudulent Social Security card and a fraudulent permanent resident card, also known as a “green card,” when he completed employment forms in August 2018, at a business in Decorah, Iowa. The Social Security account number on the card used by Choch-Quiej belonged to another person. The Alien Registration number on the “green card” was issued to another person.

Choch-Quiej was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand. Choch-Quiej was sentenced to 133 days’ imprisonment. He must also serve a one-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

Choch-Quiej is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be turned over to immigration officials.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Tvedt and investigated by Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations.

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