Wichita, KS – Benita Cardona-Gonzalez, 32, an illegal immigrant living in Topeka, plead guilty to a reduced charge of possessing fraudulent identification documents. This plea deal will require her to serve an 18-month prison term for committing “total identity theft” of a Houston elementary school teacher. Cardona-Gonzalez agreed not to contest deportation. In court, she expressed remorse, explaining she had not intended to cause anyone any harm.
Identity theft is on the rise in the US, requiring people to be ever vigilant of their personal and financial information. Thieves will use this to open a credit line in the name of the victim, leaving them responsible for the repayment and debt. In this case, Cardona-Gonzalez went further, using the victim’s information to assume the entire persona. Cardona-Gonzalez acquired a driver’s license, employment, a mortgage, food stamps, and medical care for her and her children.
Matthew Works, her defense lawyer, said:
“She wanted to give her children a better life. That is what this is all about.”
The Washington Times quoted the real Cardona L. Gonzalez, who felt less sympathetic to the fake’s situation:
“When she claimed my identity and I claimed it back, she was informed that I was claiming it too. She knew I was aware and that I was trying to fight, and yet she would keep fighting. It is not like she realized and she stopped. No, she kept going, and she kept going harder.”
The Associated Press reports that the real Gonzalez learned of the theft 12 years prior after being denied credit. Both sought for new social security numbers. However, the Social Security Administration only issued one to the impersonator. Cardona-Gonzalez initially claimed the real Gutierrez had stolen the identity, but the truth eventually emerged.
The real Gonzalez is eager to see Cardona-Gonzalez in court on her official sentencing in March, wishing the courts had bestowed more than 18-months in prison. She said:
“I want to see her face to face. I want to see it actually happening. After all this time, I am still haunted. I want to be sure she is put away.”