A local soccer coach, and non-citizen, facing charges of Identity Fraud, went to a Third District Court hearing Monday, with an audience of 60 to 70 locals showing up in support.
In the end, the defendant, 35-year-old Gerardo Nava, entered into a plea bargain with prosecutors. He was sentenced to a year on prohibition, as the courtroom audience applauded at the end of the hearing.
He will, however, go onto a proceeding with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
Nava was charged last year with one Count of Identity Fraud and two Counts of Forgery, which are felonies.
Under the plea agreement, Nava entered a Guilty Plea to a Class A Misdemeanor charge of “Possession of Another’s Identity Documents.” The other charges were dismissed.
His attorney, Daniel Black, read to Judge Patrick Corum the formal statement of the offense.
“Your honor, that on January 30th of 2018 in Summit County that he was in possession of the Social Security card of another person that it happened to belong to another individual,” Black read.
“Ok did he acknowledge that he was not entitled to possess a document and security number?” Judge Corum asked.
Yes, he had knowledge that he was not entitled to possess it,” Black answered. “He did not have knowledge that it belonged to another person, but he did have knowledge that he was not allowed to possess that.
“Ok and with the intent to deceive or defraud?” Corum said.
“Yes, your honor, yes.” Black replied.
For the prosecution, Assistant State Attorney General Russell Smith explained why they were supporting a pleas agreement.
“The Attorney General’s office we look at these cases,” Smith explained. “This is a case where the gentleman is in the country, he’s working to support a family. He hasn't committed any other criminal activity. So, a misdemeanor gives him an opportunity to straighten out his paperwork.”
Smith said the more serious felony charges would lead to deportation for Nava, and he could not re-apply.
Nava’s attorney said he had been arrested last week.
On Monday, he was sentenced to 360 days in jail, but that sentence was suspended. He has been fined $250, which is to be paid by September 1st. Judge Corum ordered him released from the county jail.
His attorney and the Judge concluded the hearing, with a standing-room only crowd in attendance.
The hearing ended with applause from the audience.
Judge Corum said in response, “I don’t always get clapping.”
Nava’s attorney, Black said he has been in the U.S. for over 20 years, and he has three children who are citizens.
Black said the news about Nava became a rallying cry in the community and led to his firm being hired. They will represent him before the federal government.
“ICE is still going to come and take custody of him, but he will be able to be released on an immigration bond hopefully,” Black continued. “So, that he can fight his immigration case, his deportation case out of custody and still be able to return here to Park City.”
He said ICE will be taking his client into custody almost immediately.
“So, within 48 hours of today they’ll come and pick him up and they will transport him to the nearest ICE facility,” Black explained. “Which there isn’t one in Utah, so he’ll probably go to either Colorado or Nevada or Washington and wait for his first appearance in front of an immigration judge. Where we will argue that he should be released on a bond. It will be up to the judge whether he gets a bond or not. (Waiting for a first appearance before a judge could be) at least a couple of weeks, but it can be even a couple of months. It depends on how backlogged they are at the certain detention facility that he is transported to.”
Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson was not directly involved in the case, but she said she was moved watching the hearing.
“Well because the case was brought by the attorney general's office, I did not know that this matter would be on the docket and did not know that there was going to be a crowd appear this morning in watching the proceedings,” Olson said. “I felt incredibly proud of our community for showing up to support a family and an individual that they value and respect.”