Attorney: Reversal will affect future forgery cases

The reversal of an Austin woman’s aggravated forgery conviction will only affect forgery cases involving fraudulent use of a Minnesota identification card, according to a Mower County prosecutor.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed 31-year-old Martha Isela Reynua’s aggravated forgery and perjury convictions Dec. 5. The court upheld Reynua’s convictions of simple forgery and two counts of presenting falsified information in a motor vehicle title application.

Reynua was convicted in 2010 after she used someone else’s Social Security card to acquire a Minnesota identification card and subsequent work documents, according to court records.

Assistant Mower County Attorney Jeremy Clinefelter, who prosecuted Reynua’s case in district court, said the appeals court ruling applies to Mower County because it clarifies the law regarding aggravated forgery.

“It’s an interpretation of what constitutes an aggravated forgery offense,” Clinefelter said. “In this case, the court said a Minnesota identification card cannot qualify as an aggravated forgery offense because it doesn’t evidence a legal right and privilege in and of itself.”

According to Clinefelter’s interpretation of the ruling, fraudulently using a document that creates, terminates or transfers a legal right or privilege — such as a driver’s license — could constitute aggravated forgery. Since a Minnesota identification card is only used to identify oneself, fraudulent use of one constitutes simple forgery, which is also a felony but carries a shorter sentence than the aggravated offense.

“Going forward, we won’t use aggravated forgery charges against individuals in this situation,” Clinefelter said.

Along with the aggravated forgery reversal, the appeals court reversed Reynua’s perjury conviction. The conviction stemmed from Reynua claiming to be a U.S. citizen on her I-9 employment-eligibility verification form. The court ruled that since the I-9 form is a federal document, federal law preempts state prosecution for conduct involving the form, making the form unusable for purposes other than those specifically listed in terms of enforcing federal laws.

Clinefelter said I-9 forms are rarely used as evidence, making the ruling insignificant for Mower County. Clinefelter conceded during the appeals court process to the improper use of the I-9.

Clinefelter said it’s important to remember that someone residing in the U.S. illegally and using fraudulent identification will likely be charged with aggravated forgery and simple forgery, as well as other charges depending on the case. The reversal of Reynua’s conviction clarified the law, but Reynua still faces sentencing for the simple forgery conviction.

“At the end of the day, it’s still a case where Ms. Reynua committed various state offenses,” Clinefelter said. “She was living a fictitious existence with these documents …. That creates numerous violations of state and federal law in the process of doing that.”

Mower County

In Your Community: Wolfe siblings get together to celebrate milestones

Mower County

In Your Community: 2024 Music Hall of Fame inductees honored

News

Canadian wildfire smoke chokes Upper Midwest for second straight year

Mower County

Archaeology in Mower County: Beyond the quarry

Mower County

Ikes fundraiser Wednesday night

Education

Rochester Public Schools move to formalize procedure for helping transgender kids

News

Psychosis care model gives new hope to young patients

News

Proposed Minnesota Equal Rights Amendment draws rival crowds to Capitol for crucial votes

Austin Packers

APS Board gets update on plan to add boys volleyball

Mower County

Legislature prepares to go down to the wire as Minnesota session wraps up

Mower County

Skilled Nursing Care Week: Nurses thrive with in a family atmosphere

Mower County

Public invited to walk for mental health

Education

Riverland graduation: stories of hope and resilience

Blooming Prairie

To be celebrated: Zumbro Education District holds Activity Day for special education students

News

Minnesota readies for its flag switch as old banner comes down

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Convictions: April 29 to May 6

News

Bob Ross’ legacy lives on in new ‘The Joy of Painting’ series

News

Judge directs Michael Cohen to keep quiet about Trump ahead of his hush money trial testimony

News

Prepare for another summer of air quality alerts, but less than 2023

Mower County

In Your Community: Mower County Senior Center

Mower County

St. Mark’s to host seminar on downsizing

Mower County

31st annual Stamp Out Hunger drive this Saturday

Education

Riverland Music student qualifies for national competition

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

18-year-old from Lyle charged with 15 felonies, 14 related to child pornography