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'John Doe' arrested, held on immigration detainer
When the man's car was pulled over by a patrolman in Perry County early Christmas morning, he allegedly told the officer his name was Roberto Jaime Soto Jr. After the man was placed in handcuffs, Sheriff Gary Schaaf was told it was Oscar Flores Maldonado who was being brought to the Perry County Jail. In its police reports, the Missouri State Highway Patrol settled on the last name the man reportedly gave -- Manuel Chavez Aguero.
So, when prosecutor Thomas Hoeh went into his office on the holiday specifically to file charges, he went with "John Doe."
Whatever the man's name, the five felony forgery counts Hoeh handed him -- for signing police paperwork with a phony name during his arrest -- don't seem to be his only legal troubles. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, wants to speak to him before he is released from custody.
In addition to the county charges, Doe, as he's referred to in Perry County court papers, is being held on a so-called federal ICE detainer, which asks that he be kept in custody as the agency determines whether to initiate deportation proceedings.
Officials with the agency, which has deported more than 409,000 people this year, were tight-lipped Wednesday about why they're interested.
"Most of the information on people that we arrest is private," said ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer. "We extend privacy rights to foreign nationals the same as we do U.S. citizens."
Still, immigration detainers, or holds, are typically used on people deemed deportable, usually for participation in a crime or being in the country illegally. The agency, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, issued new detainer guidelines last week to limit the use of such detainers to only the most serious offenders.
But Neudauer said that doesn't necessarily mean that the man arrested in Perry County on Tuesday is among their most wanted. The man may have been arrested during a "crossover period," Neudauer said, as they are just beginning to implement the new policy.
"Right now, all I can tell you is that we have reason to believe we need to speak to him," Neudauer said. "He hasn't come into our custody yet. He was arrested by the state patrol. When the local jurisdiction is done, they will just let us know so we can come and speak with him."
ICE priorities include finding and deporting those who have broken criminal laws, made threats to national security or illegally crossed borders. But, with the detainers coming under fire for holding some people too long for relatively minor offenses, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano directed ICE to focus its resources on key priorities.
In this man's case, ICE may be interested only because he was criminally charged, Neudauer said.
Hoeh said he doubts that a man who has nothing to hide would use a fake name.
"We wouldn't be surprised to learn there is possibly an illegal alien on our hands," Hoeh said.
The man initially was pulled over for failing to drive on the right half of the roadway, but drew the trooper's suspicions when the man used a nondriver ID that did not look like him, Hoeh said. When the man signed a ticket with a fake name, Hoeh said, it was fraud.
"You think of a forgery as a forged check," Hoeh said. "But the statutes say if you sign your name to perpetuate a fraud, it's forgery. He was professing to be somebody he's not."
A patrol spokesman from Troop C did not return several phone calls Wednesday to see if it had firmly identified the man as Aguero, age 27, of Fairmont City, Ill.
The man remained in custody Wednesday on a $5,000 cash-only bond. Online court filings show that Doe has yet to have an attorney. The forgery charges carry a possible penalty of up to 25 years in prison.
710 S. Kingshighway, Perryville, Mo.