3 plead to federal charges in ID fraud scheme

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek
generic gerald r. ford federal building generic federal courthouse_1530735776779.JPG.jpg

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two West Michigan men and a Rhode Island woman have pleaded guilty to federal charges linked to a scheme to get fake ID documents for people who were in the country illegally.

Eddie Michael Balderramas, 51, and his 28-year-old son Michael James Balderramas, both of Kalamazoo, were arrested in June. They, along with 37-year-old Michelle Martinez-Marte of Rhode Island, admitted to the scheme as part of plea agreements, according to a Thursday release from federal prosecutors.

As far back as April 2016 and as recently as July 2017, authorities say, Martinez-Marte worked with an accomplice in Puerto Rico to fake ID documents for customers in the names of actual citizens.

The Balderramases would go to East Coast to pick up the customers and bring them to Kalamazoo. They would give the customers documents like leases, paychecks and bills to make it look like they lived in Michigan. They would then take them to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office and help them get a driver’s license. They would then drive them back to the East Coast.

All three admitted to conspiracy to transfer identification documents and the means of identification of others to obtain Michigan’s driver’s licenses. Martinez-Marte and Eddie Balderramas also pleaded to aggravated identity theft. Martinez-Marte was also convicted of illegally reentering the U.S. after being previously deported.

Eddie Balderramas is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 22, and Michael Balderramas and Martinez-Marte will be sentenced Feb. 1. All three face up to 15 years in prison. Eddie Balderramas and Martinez-Marte could be sentenced to additional time.

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