Las Cruces—Four of the eight individuals involved in the check cashing scam were indicted on a number of charges during grand jury proceedings late yesterday afternoon.
Maria Ceniceros, the ring-leader, was indicted on 113 counts of Identity Theft, 3-counts of Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Fraud, 3-counts of Forgery, Conspiracy to Commit Forgery, Racketeering and Money Laundering. If convicted of the alleged crimes Maria Ceniceros faces up to 185 years incarceration.
Armando Gutierrez-Torrez, Ceniceros cohort from Juarez, Mexico, was indicted on charges of Conspiracy to Commit Theft of Identity, Conspiracy to Commit Forgery, Conspiracy to Commit Fraud, Racketeering and Money Laundering. Following a conviction Gutierrez-Torrez faces up to 14 ½ years imprisonment.
Maria Ceniceros husband, Francisco Ceniceros, and their daughter, Denise Ceniceros, were each indicted on charges of Conspiracy and Racketeering for their role in the alleged crimes. With a conviction they both face 10 ½ years imprisonment.
The remaining three, Nadia Martinez, Reena Rodriguez and Emilia Gomez, were co-workers with Maria Ceniceros in the county clerk’s office. Each allegedly falsely notarized documents and their cases are pending.
The investigation revealed that Maria Ceniceros, a Document Technician in the clerk’s office, would garner social security numbers and other sensitive information from voter registration cards, deliver it to Torrez who would in turn have the “IRS” tax return checks printed in Mexico. Torrez then delivered those checks, some in the thousands of dollars, to Ceniceros who would then arrange for notarized documents with her signature to be completed in order to cash the falsified checks.
Investigators from the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Treasury Department, combined resources in the investigation which ultimately lead to the indictments. The cooperation between the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office and the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office marks the beginning of the newly created Public Corruption and White Collar Task Force.
All the defendants have pleaded not guilty and trial dates are pending.