Urbana man who admitted buying identity, voting illegally in U.S. gets time served

Urbana man who admitted buying identity, voting illegally in U.S. gets time served

URBANA — A Mexican national who pleaded guilty last year to federal charges of voting illegally in U.S. elections and making a false statement in an application for a U.S. passport was sentenced Friday to time served, meaning that he could be released from custody any day.

But his attorneys, Tony and Evan Bruno, said it's unclear what will happen to 34-year-old Miguel Valencia-Sandoval, since he faces deportation back to Mexico by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Valencia-Sandoval has been in custody for more than a year since he was arrested after attempting to re-enter the United States at Laredo, Texas, in January 2017. In his court appearance Friday, he was dressed in a gray striped jumpsuit from the Macon County Jail.

Before the arrest, he had lived in Urbana with his wife, Maria Ramirez, since 2005, raising three children, all of whom were born here. He had held several jobs, even at one time owning and operating a Mexican restaurant while using the identity of a Texas man named Ramiro G. Vasquez.

Valencia-Sandoval admitted, according to a federal affidavit, that he was not the true owner of the Texas birth certificate for Ramiro Vasquez and that he had bought it for $50,000 in 2005.

In exchange for his plea last year, more-serious charges of aggravated identity theft were dismissed against Valencia-Sandoval. His attorneys said after the sentencing Friday that they don't believe that a Ramiro Vasquez ever existed and contended that a Texas woman who gave birth in 1971 obtained two birth certificates, one for a real child and another as a sham, and the phony birth certificate is the one that Valencia-Sandoval bought.

"There's no evidence he ever lived," Tony Bruno said of Ramiro G. Vasquez. "The feds were never able to find any evidence of him."

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office had no comment.

U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce imposed the sentence Friday afternoon, saying that it fit within the guidelines of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

"It is not my job to second-guess Congress or the sentencing commission, and I'm not inclined to create new law," he said.

And he noted that Valencia-Sandoval had no criminal record, had been employed, paid taxes and even voted (eight times in Champaign County, according to records at the county clerk's office, between 2008 and 2016, including the 2012 Republican primary and the 2014 and 2016 Democratic primaries).

"So if anyone wishes to second-guess the sentencing guidelines or say that Congress got it wrong, my first question to them would be 'Did you vote, do you pay all your taxes, do you always work until you retire?'" Bruce said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Freres, who prosecuted the case, said "the sanctity of the vote is the cornerstone of a free society" and anyone who votes illegally "erodes confidence in our system."

Tony Bruno said Valencia-Sandoval "built a life here and worked 80 hours a week hanging drywall, raising four kids, paying taxes and voting, which is more than can be said for many Americans. He shouldn't have voted."

Bruce asked the defendant if he wanted to make a statement in court and Valencia-Sandoval responded in Spanish, "I just want to apologize, and I would want to ask forgiveness for what I have done and for all the time that I have wasted for all of you. I am so sorry. I am very sorry."

More than 40 letters in support of Valencia-Sandoval were submitted by friends, neighbors, relatives and past employers, most of them citing his devotion to his family and his ambition.

"Ramiro has been a loyal and reliable subcontractor for our company for two years. His hard work and dedication are testament to his strong work ethic," wrote Rick Scott, co-owner of Kevin Daniels Painting & Drywall, using Valencia-Sandoval's assumed name.

Tricia Jayme, a neighbor of Valencia-Sandoval, said that he "and his family have always been very kind to us. We found comfort knowing we have them as neighbors."

Ricardo Onate of Decatur wrote that Valencia-Sandoval "is a great person, a great friend, great human being who came across one of the toughest situations anybody would be in and he needed to make a decision at the time whether to stay in the country and raise his family here or go back to Mexico where there is really no future for a family or to raise our kids."

One of his young daughters wrote that "I want you to know that my daddy is the best dad in the world because he loves us and takes care of us he's always working a lot so he can give us everything we need. And he needs to work to get a lot of money because now that he's not around, mommy can't buy us a lot of stuff because she doesn't get a whole lot of money."

Another daughter said her father is "a great dad and I've would never trade him with anybody or all the gold and silver in the planet. And I miss him a lot and I want him to come back with us soon."

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BruckJr wrote on January 19, 2018 at 11:01 pm

Hillary voter?  Is this guy jailed in Decatur or in the santuary city?

MSJ66 wrote on January 20, 2018 at 12:01 am

80 hrs a week hanging drywall for Kevin Daniels and Rick Scott? i'm assuming since he was an illegal Kevin Daniels and Rick Scott didn't pay overtime for the other 40 hrs a weeek as required by state law? Just an opinion and not an accusation, but we have all witnessed real life haven't we? Guessing no insurance provided or even assistance provided to get insurance? (Again holding the illegal immigrant factor over his head). I live near that area where Kevin Daniel's Painting and Drywall is located and ALL I see on my way to work is van's marked Kevin Daniels Painting and Drywall is vans going down Duncan with vans full of Mexican or Latino workers. How many of the rest of them are just like this man? Also, might as well throw in S&K as I see the same thing there on a daily basis. These are not facts but based on this reported article and what I see on a DAILY basis one has to ask these questions?

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on January 20, 2018 at 10:01 am
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So now only white people can drive in your neighborhood? I haven't seen too many MSJ66 vans rolling around town with hard working blue blooded Americans ready to work 80 hours a week. You aren't in charge, this isn't your country and you are FAR outnumbered by brown people on this planet so you should learn to love your brother rather than tear him down. People like the ones you despise for their color and what part of the map they were born on keep our country rolling. Lazy old privileged men like you have absolutely no place in this discussion. You're all dying off one by one, losing the power you thought you had over people who don't look or talk like you. And we're all rejoicing.

Mr Dreamy wrote on January 20, 2018 at 8:01 am

There goes another Republican vote lost. Can we afford to lose any Republican voters? The Dems will take over!

chief21 wrote on January 20, 2018 at 8:01 am

The entire CU area is full of illegals employed in carpet laying, landscape,painting and roofing. These CU employers are breaking the law by hiring illegals and charging residents full price. These are jobs that should go to American citizens.

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on January 20, 2018 at 3:01 pm
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This continues to be the dumbest argument out there for your cause. Americans don't and won't do the jobs that these people do. Americans' sense of entitlement prevents a culture of hard work and sacrifice from flourishing. Sounds like the snowflakes are looking to hand out participation trophies (jobs) to people just because they were born on one side of an imaginary line. If an American wants a job cleaning hotel rooms, tearing off roofs on 100 degree days or hauling trash from a construction site there are plenty of those jobs available and nobody is taking them away from you. If you don't work hard to learn how to provide for your family there are plenty of people from all around this planet that will gladly do it instead. Nobody deserves anything just for being born here.

wykhb wrote on January 21, 2018 at 11:01 pm

Just to clarify, are  you suggesting that illegal aliens should have to work those jobs for less money than an American citizen would accept?   What do you have against people getting paid the same for the same work as you do?   

Democrats deported RECORD numbers of illegal aliens over the last 8 years, can you link to ONE, just ONE comment of your outrage over that?  

You seem very racist, shame on you trampling the rights of illegal aliens. 

GLG wrote on January 20, 2018 at 8:01 am

When he gets out he can work for the "Walrus" and his son, Helping other criminal alliens or  he can go to the judges home and work for him. Judge Colin Bruce, Obama appointee 2013. Judge McCuskey would have had this guy back in Mexico by now!

Bruno and Bruno, Just because you did it don't mean your guilty

MSJ66 wrote on January 20, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Aw poor Pirate. The dead head logo by itself explains how you aren't capable of reading something and grasping the point. I was born here, I have a good job and don't feel entitled. Sounds to me your MO is to turn everything into a race issue. It is a question of legality to be in the country and to vote. If you are here ILLEGALLY(that's what the liberals always conveniently avoid discussing) then you aren't supposed to be here. Therefore, I am glad they are deporting people who aren't LEGALLY allowed to be here regardless of their race, I don't care how hard they work and whether they've paid taxes and raised a family and had a rougher life in whatever country the ILLEGALLY came from. It's called rule of law. I am not a big fan of most things our current president is doing but on the immigration issue and sending back people that,for one last time in case you haven't gotten it yet, are here ILLEGALLY I fully support his efforts. So you know what you can do with your made up implications about my racism. Need to find a better card to play.

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on January 20, 2018 at 3:01 pm
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Point proven. You claim not to be racist (most racists do) and then immediately make a negative assumption about me based on my picture. I can imagine what you would have said to yourself had my picture been a Latino man. How are you going to try to convince me you don't profile people of color after that? You made it a race issue by taking offense to non-white people working and driving in your neighborhood. What does it prove that you see Latino men driving work vans? Automatically makes them illegals? So is it safe to assume that since the vast majority of child predators are white men that we can start calling out any white person driving near a school for being a pedophile? Let's see your browser history sir.

Also there were no borders, taxes, ICE or even old white dudes that complain about everything yet do nothing before the native people in this land were brutally murdered and driven from their homes by your ancestors. YOU are here illegally. YOU should be deported according to YOUR own values. It's never surprising yet always amusing when narrow minded people want to tell others they can't comprehend something.

Re-read your post, think about it for a while and don't worry about apologizing. We understand your embarrassment.

MSJ66 wrote on January 20, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Nothing to apologize for and definitely not embarrassed by anything I said. I'd say based on the other responses related to this article that most seem to support my position as well. Maybe there is a reason why there are so few Dem, liberal, controlled legislatures all across the country? Also, if you haven't noticed liberals, who typically have your mindset you revealed above, have no branch at the federal level. Maybe you should look at that as a source for your underlying anger as it appears the majority of the country feels closer to my thinking than yours as evidenced by the political make up of state and federal control. Best of luck.

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on January 20, 2018 at 5:01 pm
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What a pathetic response. You think because 2 or 3 of the usual obnoxious, misinformed and under educated commenters share your obnoxious, misinformed and under educated opinion on the NG message board that the majority of the country agrees with you? The fact that you drew this conclusion points to how delusional you really may be. Humanity over everything. You are a dying breed. Have you ever had an original thought or have you always done exactly what you're told? You don't have to answer that, I already know. What do you support your position with? What makes you more deserving of a job than a person that lives across an imaginary line? If he's willing to work harder and keep his entitled lazy mouth shut then why couldn't he take the job?

Nice to see you quit defending your racism. Pretty hard after you go back and read it isn't it? This has nothing to do with Democrats/Republicans and everything to do with you guys not wanting other humans to have the same opportunity to support their family as you. I'm ashamed to know I share the same air as someone so cold and narrow minded. Take a trip to Guatemala or Honduras (not at the all-white resorts either) and tell me you wouldn't want to immediately give your family a better life if you lived in some of these places. Anyone willing to work hard and treat others with humanity and respect deserves these opportunities far more than you ever will.

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on January 20, 2018 at 3:01 pm
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I'd say I'd like to hear your take on the war on drugs, but your incessant all caps usage of the word ILLEGAL tells me everything I need to know about your spine. Leaders and followers. Leaders and followers...

MSJ66 wrote on January 20, 2018 at 6:01 pm

32 states complete GOP control. That means state senate, state house and govenorships but of course since you think you're better educated than the rest of us in the majority I'm sure you know how this works? Too funny. 14 states complete control by Dems, 4 states split control. At the federal level Dems have nothing. By that data it appears there are many many more people across the country in addition to those posting on this article that agree with my mode of thinking rather than yours. Seems your just upset by majority rule since you are in the minority. Hang in there snowflake because the house will stay under GOP control after mid terms maybe with fewer seats but still under GOP majority. GOP most likey will gain senate seats in midterms, thus you'll have two more years to cry your alligator tears. Thanks for the fun discussion. Time for me to go hang out with my legal,hard working privileged friends. Best wishes.

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on January 21, 2018 at 12:01 pm
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I haven't said anything about the GOP. You assume that because I don't hate people that aren't white that I'm a Democrat pushing partisan narrative. Your argument diminished rapidly over this conversation, moving all over the place and switching subjects/backing off the barely veiled racism from your first post. You are shining example the stereotypical arrogant, prejudiced and dopey American the rest of the world has grown to despise just like your fearless leader who sits atop your beloved GOP. Pull your head out of where we all know it is and start caring about other humans instead of what color the person's skin is that drives a van through your neighborhood. What have you done to make a difference for your cause? Do you have a special vigilante neighborhood immigration patrol? Or do you donate to your buddies who marched on Charlottesville? I've always been curious about what you folks who complain about the foreigners "TAKIN OUR JOBS!! 1!!1!!!" actually do about it besides post on the internet. Keep bumping your chest online big dog. You'll never have the courage to look another man in the eye and tell him he doesn't belong here. Because you know it's wrong. Read the last few lines of this article and ask yourself how you'd feel if your little kids were without dad for over a year because he was put in jail for giving you a better life and didn't even do anything wrong.

wykhb wrote on January 21, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Dread Parrot-   None of your arguments or reasoning are based in evidence or reality, at all.   The USA is made of ALL races/ethnicities, no one is arguing against that continuing, only expressing desire for laws that have existed since 1986 to be enforced. 

Your only argument is that white people don't like other races, never mind if those other people disregard the laws of the United States no matter what race the people who made them were.   You advocate for illegal immigration by calling people racist, that's absurd and very, very weak.


Dread Pirate DNT wrote on January 21, 2018 at 2:01 pm
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Just to clarify - are you agreeing with him that if you see a Latino man driving a work van that it is reasonable to suspect that he is a criminal? That's how this started and what is really absurd and weak is that you choose to twist my words to support your partisan values and attempt to let this guy off the hook for actually being racist. Just to be clear for some of you that haven't sought out diversity in life, if you make a judgement about someone you don't know because of the color of their skin, that is most certainly racist. Which is precisely what MSJ66 did, got busted and backpedaled his say out of. Your attempt to cloak his racist remarks by spinning the conversation into something completely different to support the Fox News regurgitation spewing from your bowels.

I never said white people don't like people of other races. Only white people like you guys. Also, what is with the weird obsession you guys have with immigration? Why don't we ever see you guys showing your outrage over crimes that don't aren't specific to....you got it.....people who are a different color. What makes you look so foolish is that your selective outrage is only saved for black and brown people. It's obvious.

wykhb wrote on January 21, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Dead Parrot-  The article itself CLARIFIES quite well that the person was in the country illegally and was convicted of that very thing in a court of law.  It further CLARIFIES that the person works at the business noted. 

All the other commenter did was CLEARLY repeat those things and you launched into some kind of crazy personal multiple post rant about if the fat lazy white people who are not citizens and simply trespassers don't want those jobs then the rest of the world should be able to just come and do them blah blah blah    

What is the weird obsession that the last President had with immigration when he stood in front of a camera and CLEARLY said that illegal immigration is out of control and must be stopped?   The guy deported record numbers of illegal immigrants.  What about that Clinton guy AND his wife who at some point stood in front of cameras and said the EXACT same things, or your current Democratic speaker Schumer who also did that?    It seems like lying to your voters after getting elected might be an even Democratic party obsession.  

Also, to be CLEAR, cases like this clearly show that illegal immigrants are in fact voting.  Considering how things went for Democrats lately, I can see why they are desperate for more illegal immigration to occur.  They need new voters that they can control by threats of taking away housing, food, money, health care, education, or whatever the plantation perk of the week is.  I guess when you depend on government to provide for you, you really don't get a choice when it's time to vote.  

There's some clarification for you, use it to dry your tears or whatever else.  And by all means continue to attack and piss people off, it's working great.   

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on January 21, 2018 at 9:01 pm
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For as much as you say the word clearly, you offer no clarity. You CLEARLY still haven't responded to your initial racist remarks and it's very CLEAR that you're no different than any other deranged right wing extremist that defaults to the Obama and Hillary finger pointing when not only I didn't mention them but CLEARLY stated that your racism has nothing to do with politics. I'll let you return to your O'Reilly reruns.

GLG wrote on January 23, 2018 at 9:01 am

If he was arrested in El Paso TX Why was his trial in Urbana and he's in jail in Decatur IL? 

I'm sure there is a federal dist. court there.  What is missing in this story?