CEDAR RAPIDS | An illegal immigrant who assumed the identity of a U.S. citizen, obtained a U.S. passport and voted in the 2012 presidential election pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court in Cedar Rapids.
Abel Hernandez-Labra, 44, an illegal immigrant living in Hampton, was convicted of one count of making false statements in a passport application, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of making a false claim of U.S. citizenship to register to vote and one count of harboring an illegal alien.
In a plea agreement, Hernandez-Labra admitted that he is a Mexican citizen who illegally entered the United States. Hernandez-Labra admitted he purchased a birth certificate and Social Security number of an American citizen born in Puerto Rico and assumed that identity.
Falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen, Hernandez-Labra used those documents to obtain Iowa driver's licenses which he in turn used to apply for and fraudulently obtain a U.S. passport in 2008 and to unlawfully register and vote in the 2012 federal election.
Hernandez-Labra also admitted that, during 2014, he harbored and encouraged an illegal alien to reside unlawfully in the U.S. by providing work and a residence and by not reporting the alien to immigration authorities.
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Sentencing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a presentence report is prepared.
Hernandez-Labra remains in custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.
Hernandez-Labra faces a mandatory sentence of two years in prison on the aggravated identity theft conviction and a possible maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the passport fraud conviction, and five years in prison on both the illegal voting conviction and alien harboring conviction, along with a $1 million fine, $400 in special assessments and three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Tvedt and was investigated by agents from the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Chicago Field Office; the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations; the Iowa Division of Investigations and Appeals; the Iowa Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection; the Hampton Police Department; the Webster City Police Department and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.