Customer of fraudulent ID scheme pleads guilty

A man identified in a federal wiretap investigation as a customer of a fraudulent driverís license scheme pleaded guilty Thursday in Charleston.

Jose Zelaya, 59, was among 30 people indicted in the case that was unraveled by Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration investigators.

Zelaya pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to register in the United States as an alien. The plea agreement included a sentence of time already served. Zelaya has spent the past six months in jail.

He will be turned over to immigration officials for deportation proceedings, according to U.S. District Judge David Norton.

Zelaya paid money to Alma Rosa Ortiz-Calzada, 56, who pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy charges last week, to fraudulently obtain a New Mexico driverís license.

On Feb. 24, 2011, Zelaya obtained that driverís license using fraudulent paperwork, according to a federal affidavit. After he was arrested, Zelaya admitted to paying Ortiz-Calzada $2,500 in cash to obtain the license, document stated.

Ortiz-Calzada recruited illegal aliens in the Southeast, mostly in South Carolina, between July 2009 and June 2012, according to federal prosecutors. She has not yet been sentenced.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.

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