Thursday, April 24, 2014
A Guatemalan national accused of stealing the identity of a Texas man to obtain a Maine identification card, collect welfare benefits and get a job pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court in Portland to 10 of the 12 counts against him.
Sergio Suhum, whose age is unknown, had been living in Auburn and Brunswick since 2008 under the name of Edgar Estrada, a Hidalgo County, Texas, man.
Suhum admitted guilt during a hearing in U.S. District Court before Judge D. Brock Hornby to five counts of Social Security fraud, two counts of immigration document fraud and three counts of false personation of a U.S. citizen.
Suhum has pleaded not guilty to the remaining two counts of theft of public money and aggravated identity theft. He is scheduled for trial on those two charges on Feb. 26.
Estrada, who lives in Texas, was unaware that anyone was using his name until he received letters from the Texas Department of Public Safety that someone using his name had been arrested in Maine, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in support of Suhum’s arrest in October.
Suhum first used Estrada’s identity, his name, date of birth, and Social Security number to apply in 2008 for a Maine state ID card and then in 2010 for a Maine driver’s license, an agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, David Pawson, said in the affidavit.
Authorities began to put together the case after Suhum was arrested twice in 2012, once on April 14 in Topsham and again on Sept. 29 in Auburn, on state charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, according to court records.
Federal agents began using an undercover source in October 2012 to get more information on the man they later identified as Suhum. They tracked him to his workplace at Moark Farm in Turner and to his residence in Brunswick, court records state.
Suhum faces up to five years in prison on each of the Social Security fraud charges, up to 10 years on each of the immigration document fraud charges and up to three years on each of the false personation of a U.S. citizen counts.
If convicted at trial, Suhum faces up to 10 years in prison on the theft of public money charge and two years for the aggravated identity theft charge in addition to any prison time for the false personation charges.
Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at: