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CACTUS, Texas -- Alfredo Richard Toscana Jr. was on his way to his niece's sixth birthday party when he was stopped for speeding in Claude, Texas. Minutes later, a bewildered Toscano was arrested and his car impounded for a crime he knew nothing about.
It was the first hint his identity had been hijacked and sold to illegal immigrants. His driver's license had been suspended because of an illegal alien’s drunken-driving conviction.
"I've never gotten a DUI in my life," said Toscano, an Amarillo, Texas, native and Iraq war veteran stationed at Fort Sill, Okla.
"I'm sorry," the officer said. "I have to go by what this says."
Toscano spent the next nine hours behind bars, wearing an old-fashioned jail uniform: white with black stripes across it, his inmate number on the front. The next morning, a sympathetic judge promised to alert the Texas Rangers to his plight.
Seven months earlier, a 25-year-old Mexican had set the stage for Toscano’s arrest. Natividad Villa was arrested for drunken driving in Moore County, Texas with a license bearing the name Alfredo Richard Toscano Jr. Villa pretended to be Toscano in the court where he pled guilty.
Six weeks after Toscano’s arrest, a Texas Ranger confronted Villa - still posing as Alfredo Richard Toscano Jr. - at Swift & Co. beef processing plant in Cactus. Villa admitted his real identity and told Texas Rangers he bought his fake ID for $600 from an unidentified, long-haired white man in nearby Dumas who drove a red Jeep Cherokee. Villa then used that to get a valid Missouri driver's license, which he was carrying when his true identity was discovered.
Villa was sentenced to probation on an aggravated perjury charges for using Toscano’s identity in the drunken driving case. But Villa hasn’t given up on hi-jacking American identities. Last November, a trooper stopped a vehicle in Ochiltree County in which Villa was a passenger. Villa, authorities said, produced another false ID.
David Green, district attorney in four Texas Panhandle counties wants to revoke Villa's probation. And federal agents are taking steps to deport him.
With false identities so prevalent, even the most routine traffic stop can become a nightmare: Police aren't certain who is being questioned - or arrested.
It's unknown how many immigrants use phony documents to land jobs, but federal records offer clues: In the last five years, the Social Security Administration mailed 8 million notices annually to individuals and employers, flagging problems with workers' identifying information.
Many times the notices expose illegal workers who purchased the lost, stolen or duplicate identifying documents - from Social Security cards and birth certificates to fake driver's licenses - essential to landing a job in the U.S.
Source: The Dallas Morning NewsLegal Help
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