Crime

Las Cruces woman gets 5 years probation for forgery, fraud, and identity theft

Maria Ceniceros sentenced

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Maria Ceniceros was sentenced Monday to five years probation after pleading guilty to several state counts of Forgery, Fraud, and Conspiracy to Commit Fraud and Identity Theft.

State prosecutors dismissed 115 additional charges. If Ceniceros violates her probation, she will have to serve 12 years in prison, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the charges were dismissed because the names of some of the alleged victims could not confirmed.

"During the course of the investigation, even up through today, the names and exact identities of those individuals had not been ascertained, and with out having direct contact with them and being able to allege what individual went with what count, we were just not able to pursue those counts," Prosecutor Davis Ruark told ABC-7.

"As far as the investigation, the investigation was 100% on the spot and there were no issues with the investigation," Ken Roberts, the lead Dona Ana County Sheriff's Office investigator on the case, told ABC-7.

When ABC-7 asked Roberts about the DA's office not being able to allege which identify theft victim went with which count -  resulting in all of those counts being dismissed - Roberts referred ABC-7 to the district attorney's office.

Under the terms of her probation, Ceniceros will have to 40 hours of community service every year.

When asked by Judge Fernando Macias to explain her actions, Ceniceros, at first, said she didn't know. She then admitted it was for selfish reasons. Ceniceros said it seemed easy and she was struggling with money. She says her husband left her because of it all. Ceniceros also said her family turned on her because she hurt so many people.

Ceniceros already served 15 months in federal prison for similar charges.  In October 2015, Ceniceros pleaded guilty to Theft of Government Property and Aggravated Identity Theft Charges along with 51-year-old Armando Gutierrez-Torrez.

The two were arrested in May 2015 and indicted the following month along with several others.

Authorities say Gutierrez-Torrez delivered checks to Ceniceros that were gleaned from identities used to create fraudulent tax returns.

Gutierrez-Torres will be deported to his native Mexico after serving his sentence.


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