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SACRAMENTO — A Mexican national who assumed an American’s identity to vote in five federal elections was sentenced Tuesday to 3 years, 9 months in prison in a federal courtroom in Sacramento.

Gustavo Araujo Lerma, 64, was convicted by a jury in August of aggravated identity theft, making a false statement on a passport application and five counts of voting by an alien in federal elections.

“Today’s sentence serves to protect the public’s confidence in the immigration system, passport security, and federal elections and will deter others from perpetrating this type of fraud.” U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott

Lerma insisted he is an American named Hiram Enrique Velez. Prosecutors said Lerma was born in Mexico in 1955 and later purchased a birth certificate and Social Security card with that name in 1992. They said he voted illegally for the past 20 years.

His defense argued there is no proof that Lerma is a Mexican citizen. He testified that he was found as a 5-year-old on the streets of San Antonio, Texas, and did not know when or where he was born.

Lerma also testified that he supports President Donald Trump and donated to the Republican Party.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Araujo Lerma was born in Leon, Mexico, in 1955 and used a fraudulent passport to fly back and forth to his hometown. He also lied on immigration applications to obtain legal permanent resident status and eventually United States citizenship for his wife and two children, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said.

“Today’s sentence serves to protect the public’s confidence in the immigration system, passport security, and federal elections and will deter others from perpetrating this type of fraud,” Scott said.

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