A Burbank woman has been indicted on charges that she printed hundreds of phony birth certificates and some fake Social Security cards, federal officials announced Monday.
The federal grand jury indictment against Maria Hernandez de Franco, a Colombian national, is the latest of several directed at alleged vendors of bogus identification documents but the first to target a suspected printer of the phony credentials.
The five-count indictment alleges that Hernandez, 40, produced at least 587 counterfeit Puerto Rican birth certificates and 12 fake Social Security cards. Federal investigators said they seized two sophisticated printing presses from Hernandez's home.
Federal officials said the case is evidence of the emergence of a cottage industry in counterfeit identification documents since the advent of new sanctions against employers who hire illegal aliens.
"Birth certificates and Social Security cards are the type of documents that can be presented to employers in order to prove employability," U.S. Atty. Robert C. Bonner said at a news conference.
"This case is part of an alarming increase in the production and sale of bogus documents for use by illegal aliens in deceiving American employers," Bonner said.
Hernandez faces a maximum of 21 years imprisonment and a $1.25-million fine.