Third conviction enough to send Carbondale immigrant to prison

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A Hispanic man living in Carbondale illegally for more than a decade was sentenced to prison Friday and faces possible deportation for assaulting another man and giving a false name to authorities.

Jesus Mendoza-Soriano, 37, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal impersonation, a felony, and third-degree assault on April 2. Ninth Judicial District Court Judge Denise Lynch sentenced Soriano to 18 months in the Colorado Department of Corrections on the criminal impersonation charge. The felony conviction is Soriano’s third for the same crime.

Soriano also received 90 days for the assault charge but was credited for 102 days he has already served in the Garfield County jail since the incident occurred on Jan. 25.

According to the arrest affidavit, Garfield County sheriff’s deputies responded to a fight at the Dos Hermanos Restaurant near the Colorado Mountain College turnoff south of Glenwood Springs on Jan. 25. They spoke to the victim, who said he had been hit in the head with a bottle wielded by a man he called “Gustavo,” which turned out to be Soriano.

When deputies contacted Soriano, he told them his name was “Gustavo Sabredra,” according to the arrest report. Deputies learned that wasn’t his name when Soriano’s wife called him Jesus as he was being arrested, the report stated. Deputies again asked Soriano for his name, he reportedly gave them another false name ” Jesus Soriano-Mendoza.

When deputies ran the name Jesus Soriano-Mendoza, no criminal record was returned. However, through fingerprints, deputies discovered Soriano’s real identity. And deputies also found that he had previously been convicted for criminal impersonation in 1996 and was deported to Mexico in August of that year.

Prosecutor Matthew Barrett asked for a three-year prison term because of Soriano’s two previous felony convictions for similar crimes.

“He has shown a complete disregard for the laws of this state, and for the laws of the U.S. government, by returning to this country illegally and continuing to commit crimes,” Barrett said.

Barrett argued the public defender’s request of three years of unsupervised probation would send the wrong message to other criminals, legal or illegal.

“This is the kind of message we send,” Barrett said. “That illegal immigrants aren’t going to be treated better than legal residents who commit similar crimes.”

Barrett said after the sentencing, “The point I was trying to convey is that everyone needs to be treated equally.”

Soriano told judge Lynch that he was sorry for what he did, and that he should not have returned to the country.

“I feel I’m responsible for what I did when I hit the guy,” Soriano said. “But I did not want to hurt my family.”

Public defender Steve McCrohan said that, while Soriano did not have permission from the federal government to be here, he was working at the same job for the past seven years and supporting his family without any other criminal incidents.

Judge Lynch said, “It’s not my job to ensure the immigration policies, I have to uphold the laws of this state.”

She read his criminal history which included criminal impersonation, convictions of theft, and two DUIs. She also said he has been to prison on at least one prior conviction.