Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nothing Phony About This Arrest

The caller said she lived in Naples and wanted to start selling fake identification cards.

The man on the other end of the line agreed to help set up her business.

What he didn’t know was that the caller was an undercover Collier County sheriff’s deputy and that their meeting would eventually lead to his arrest on 18 felony counts.

Elias Barahona, 44, of Hialeah, was arrested Wednesday and charged with nine counts of knowingly selling, manufacturing and delivering forged identification and nine counts of possessing forged identification.

Reports gave this account:

Barahona met with the undercover deputy in Collier County on Jan. 4. to discuss setting her up in the business of selling fake ID cards in Naples.

Barahona told the deputy that he had been selling fraudulent ID cards, Social Security cards, government employment authorization cards, permanent resident cards, and international driver’s licenses for 15 years. On his arrest report he listed his occupation as “selling identification.”

He gave the undercover deputy three fraudulent ID cards, along with a business card and a flier, so she could start her business in Naples.

Barahona received a telephone call from the undercover deputy on Jan. 22, telling him she had paperwork ready for five customers to purchase resident identification cards and Social Security cards.

On Jan. 25, Barahona met with the undercover deputy in Collier County. The deputy gave him separate packets of passport packets with photographs, along with fictitious names, nationalities, dates of birth, and signatures. The deputy also paid him $500.

During a meeting in Collier County on Feb. 5 Barahona gave the deputy five fraudulent permanent resident cards and five fraudulent Social Security cards in exchange for $500.

He told the undercover deputy to mail paperwork for any future transactions to his residence and that he would give her a $25 discount on them.

A mugshot will be posted when it becomes available.