Crime — 26 October 2012 — by Rochelle Gillett
Guatemalan, 61, pleads guilty to passport and document fraud

He had a Belizean passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, voter’s identification card, temporary border permit, and social security card, all in the name of a Belizean living in Chicago.

Carlos Mauricio Rossal Perez, 61, a Guatemalan businessman living at #11 Handyside Street here in the city, was today taken to the Magistrate’s Court by immigration officers, where a slew of charges were read against him.

Perez was charged with false representation, using a document to which he wasn’t entitled, using a passport to which he wasn’t entitled, using a certificate to which he wasn’t entitled, and using a border permit to which he wasn’t entitled.

According to the immigration officer Carlos Amaya, Perez visited the immigration offices here in Belize City, in an effort to renew his passport. That passport, bearing PP#P0069610, was issued on October 19, 2007, and expired on October 19, 2012. However, the passport was not in Carlos Perez’s name; it was in Naim Matar’s name.

Perez (Matar), who had a Belizean birth certificate, paid $50 and received a receipt dated October 1, 2012, and on October 24, 2012, he returned to retrieve the renewed passport. But his application form was forwarded to the investigation section of the department for further queries, and he was asked to return at 3:30 that evening.

Investigations by that section revealed discrepancies with regards to his declaration. Perez, when asked if he had any siblings, replied no.

But at the Vital Statistics Department, it was revealed that Naim Matar, the name indicated in the passport and on the birth certificate, had two brothers and a sister.

It also revealed that Matar originated from Orange Walk, and further investigations revealed that the true Naim Matar is alive and residing in Chicago, United States, this information coming to them via Naim’s brother, who works at the Belize Sugar Industry in Orange Walk.

The Immigration Department immediately contacted their counterparts at the Western Border, since Perez (Matar) didn’t return for the renewed passport.

At 4:30 yesterday evening, immigration officers at the Western border observed a black Mitsubishi Montero with license plates #BZ3145, travelling toward them. Driving the vehicle at the time was Perez, and he was detained and escorted back to Belize City.

After conducting interviews with him, immigration officers learned that he was not Naim Matar, but Carlos Mauricio Rossal Perez, born May 8, 1951, in Zacapa, Guatemala. When asked for his Guatemalan documents, Perez took the officers to his vehicle and showed them where he was hiding them. A Guatemalan driver’s license was recovered and a Guatemalan passport with PP#000034906 was shown to the officers, which was issued on October 10, 2005 and expired on October 10, 2010.

Perez pleaded guilty to all the charges and the magistrate imposed the maximum fines he could under these offenses.

For false representation, he was fined $500 or one year in prison; for using a document to which he wasn’t entitled, he was fined $3,000 or two years; for using a passport to which he wasn’t entitled, he was fined $5,000 or two years; for using a certificate to which he wasn’t entitled, he was fined $1,000 or one year; and for using a border permit to which he wasn’t entitled, he was fined $1,000 or one year in prison.

The fines amounted to $10,500, and although the default years amounted to seven, if necessary, they are to run concurrently, so he would only spend a maximum of two years in prison.

After stating the fines to be imposed on Perez, the magistrate said that he is making an example of Perez so that this problem with passports does not continue.

It is noteworthy that Perez had a Belizean passport, a Belizean birth certificate, a Belizean driver’s license, a Belizean voter’s identification card, a temporary border permit, and a Belizean social security card, all in Naim Matar’s name.

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