Gautier man gets prison for identity theft


GULFPORT -- A Gautier resident and Puerto Rico native has been ordered to prison for his role in the sale of fake birth certificates and Social Security cards to people living and working in the U.S. without permission.

Edgardo Batiz Medina, 30, was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison. Chief U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. gave him the maximum prison term for the charge. Medina accepted a plea deal July 28 on a charge of aggravated identity theft.

Guirola also fined him $2,000 and ordered him to help his co-defendant repay Homeland Security Investigations $1,750. The repayment is for money undercover agents paid for fraudulent identification documents.

Medina came under scrutiny after Luis Manuel Cruz-Gonzalez told Pascagoula police three Hispanic men had assaulted him at his home in January.

A person identified in court records as a confidential information reported Cruz-Gonzalez said the men beat him up because he had sold them counterfeit documents that prevented them from legally re-entering the U.S.

HSI agents gave an informant money to buy fake documents from Cruz-Gonzalez, who was arrested with Medina on March 2. They were exchanging cash for documents in the parking lot of Signal International in Pascagoula, where both worked.

Cruz-Gonzalez was sentenced Sept. 2 to 10 months in prison for attempt and conspiracy to commit identity theft. Court papers show he faces deportation, too; he was in the U.S. without authorization.

A federal grand jury indicted both men March 18.

Medina had been released on bond but his bond was revoked in May. An HSI agent testified Medina had called the informant a "snitch" and threatened to kill him while they watched a televised boxing match at a club.