Couple pleads not guilty to forgery

Published 6:53 am Friday, February 19, 2010

An Austin couple facing felony forgery charges both pleaded not guilty Thursday in Mower County court.

Police have been investigating whether Arturo Alberto Morales Gonzalez, 33, and his wife, 28-year-old Fabiola Esmeralda Gutierrez Castaneda, have been illegally working locally with aliases.

According to court records, an unidentified informant initially told Austin police in January that Gonzalez was working under an alias in Blooming Prairie and that his wife may have been working under an alias at the Austin Walmart.

The informant said Gonzalez went by “Marvin Morales Somoyoa,” while Castaneda went by “Yanet Perez.” The informant also provided Mexican work credentials in their real names to police.

An Austin detective researched the “Somoyoa” name and found it linked to a Georgia address from 1996 to present, but also to multiple Austin addresses during that same time. No Austin listing was found in the Gonzalez name, according to records.

The informant told police the couple lived at 21990 581st Ave. in Austin. On Feb. 3, the detective set up to do surveillance at the address and observed a man he knew from the Mexican ID as Gonzalez leave the home in a car, according to court documents.

The car was pulled over a short while later, and the driver provided a Minnesota ID in the “Somoyoa” name. When the detective questioned him regarding his true identity, the man admitted to buying aliases and working in the country illegally.

His wife, who was a passenger, also admitted she had been using an alias to work illegally, according to records.

Both admitted to using two different aliases for different purposes — Gonzalez said he went by two fake names at two different jobs; Castaneda said she went by “Juanita Sandoval” while working at Walmart, and as her cousin “Janet Perez” to pay bills.

A subsequent police search of their home uncovered a number of documents, including work paystubs, linked to the false identities.

Castaneda is scheduled for a pre-trial hearing April 16; her trial would start April 26. Gonzalez is scheduled to appear March 26 and April 5.