Couple pleads guilty to forgery charges

Published 10:30 am Saturday, February 6, 2010

An Austin couple accused of felony forgery after a California woman reported that her identity had been stolen both pleaded guilty Friday.

Margarita Oliva-Ortiz, 38, and her husband, 37-year-old Artemio Ruiz-Nava, will be sentenced Oct. 8 on a count each of simple forgery. Other charges were dropped as part of plea agreements.

Both defendants could also face deportation in the case after sentencing.

According to a Mower County court complaint, a Los Angeles County woman reported the identity theft. A Los Angeles County report states that authorities were able to trace the woman’s name to an Austin address.

Subsequent searches by local authorities showed the woman’s name repeatedly linked to a Sixth Avenue Northeast address in Austin, including a search of state Driver and Vehicle Services records that indicated that the name had been used to register for a Minnesota driver’s license on multiple occasions.

That name was being used by Oliva-Ortiz, authorities discovered, to work at Hormel Foods. The report did not indicate how she obtained the alias.

Oliva-Ortiz was arrested Aug. 13 while at work, according to the Mower County report.

She admitted to police that she had been using the alias to work. She was hesitant to give her real name but gave it when she was told it was needed for jail booking.

Oliva-Ortiz also said she lived with her husband, her son and her daughter. She did not provide her husband’s name.

That same day, police executed a search of the Sixth Avenue home.

No one was home when the search began, but Ruiz-Nava did arrive while it was in progress, according to the report.

He initially said he did not live there, but then said he did when police showed him a framed photo they found in the house of him and Oliva-Ortiz.

When asked, Ruiz-Nava said he was from Mexico and in the U.S. illegally.

A number of documents were found in the house under the couple’s real names and aliases. Fraudulent Hormel paystubs were found for both, as well as wire transfer receipts and other ID cards.