Public Safety

Mexican woman faces prison for using false documents at Postville meatpacking plant

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Mexican woman, who was illegally working at a meatpacking plant in Postville, was convicted by a jury Tuesday for using false identification documents and another person’s Social Security number.

Maria Morales-Martinez, 38, was convicted of one count of unlawful use of an identification document and misuse of a Social Security number. A jury deliberated for about 40 minutes, following a one-day trial in U.S. District Court.

Evidence showed Morales-Martinez used the name, date of birth and Social Security number of another person when completing employment paperwork in August 2016 at Agri-Star Meat and Poultry, formerly Agriprocessors, in Postville.

Morales-Martinez gave the company a fraudulent Minnesota identification card with her photo, but the name and date of birth belonged to another person.

She also used a Social Security card bearing the name and Social Security number assigned to the other person on state and federal tax forms, according to court documents.

Morales-Martinez, during trial, admitted she also used that second person’s name and Social Security number when she worked for the business between 2010 and 2012, and an alias name and Social Security number while employed at the company between August 2016 and December 2018.

Testimony showed Morales-Martinez was fired after the company discovered the fraudulent documents.

Morales-Martinez faces up to 15 years in federal prison and six years of supervised release following any prison time. Sentencing will be set after a presentencing report is completed.

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In 2008, 389 immigrants living in the country illegally were arrested during the nation’s largest workplace immigration raid at Agriprocessors.

Sholom Rubashkin, the company’s former CEO, was convicted in 2009 on 86 federal counts of bank, mail and wire fraud, money laundering and failure to pay livestock providers in a timely manner. The charges stemmed from the immigration raid.

Rubashkin’s 27-year sentence was commuted after he served eight years by President Donald Trump in December 2017.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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