Appeal in forgery case could create precedent

Published 4:00 pm Saturday, August 7, 2010

A 29-year-old woman could be deported after she was sentenced to more than a decade of probation Friday in Mower County court for using an alias to work illegally in town.

Martha Isela Reynua was convicted of two counts of aggravated forgery and several other related felony counts in March — stemming from a June police search of a southwest Austin residence.

She was sentenced to 17 total years of supervised probation Friday, as well as hundreds of community service hours, with conditions to cooperate with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement department as they likely continue the process of sending her out of the country.

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Reynua’s attorney, Minneapolis-based Bruce Nestor, plans to file an appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which, if successful, could possibly influence how such cases are tried in the future.

Nestor has said that his appeal will be based on two main arguments — one, that Reynua did not actually commit forgery, and two that Mower County may be overstepping its bounds by using I-9 employment documents in state court and charging people with aggravated forgery — which he sees as a federal issue.

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton’s recent temporary injunction on Arizona’s immigration enforcement law adds strength to his argument, Nestor said.

Nestor’s first argument is based on state law, which he has said previously, makes it clear that his client — who used someone else’s

Social Security card to acquire a state ID and subsequent work documents — did not in fact commit forgery. This is because she didn’t falsely make or alter a document, but rather obtained legitimate identification illegally, Nestor argued.

That law reads, in part, that someone “with intent to defraud, falsely makes or alters a writing or object … so that it purports to have been

made by another or by the maker or alterer under an assumed or fictitious name … is guilty of aggravated forgery.”

If the appeal does not succeed, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement department will likely continue the process of deporting Reynua. Nestor has 90 days from Friday to file the appeal. Reynuas sentence is currently stayed.

Mike Rose contributed to this report.