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Posted at 12:02 PM ET, 01/14/2011

31 months for entering U.S. illegally

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post editors

A garbage truck driver who struck and killed a bicyclist near Dupont Circle in July 2008 was sentenced Friday to 31 months in prison for illegally re-entering the United States after he was deported in 1994 for importing and distributing 24 pounds of marijuana.

Marco Rosendo Flores-Fuentes, 48, of Mexico, was driving July 8, 2008, when his truck fatally hit Alice Swanson, 22, as she was riding westbound in the 1900 block of R Street in the morning rush hour.

Flores-Fuentes pleaded guilty to illegal re-entry Oct. 28 before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria. After purportedly living in California since 1987, Flores-Fuentes was convicted in July 1992 on aggravated felony drug charges in Texas, served 27 months in prison, was deported, and returned illegally three or four years later.

He obtained driver's licenses from Virginia using false birth dates and used fake immigration documents to obtain work in 2007 with kmG Hauling, Inc., of Sterling. His status was uncovered in a civil lawsuit brought by Swanson's mother against kmG that was settled out-of-court with a nondisclosure agreement in January 2010, and he was picked up by federal immigration authorities in July. No criminal charges were filed in Swanson's death.

Swanson, an Amherst College graduate who was working for the non-profit International Research and Exchanges Board, was memorialized by family and friends and the Washington Area Bicyclists Association with a "ghost bike" and other mementos placed at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and R Street NW.

By Spencer S. Hsu  | January 14, 2011; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse, Spencer S. Hsu  
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Comments

So what penalty does the trash company (or county) where he worked get???? What's that CEO's sentence??? or better yet, how liable are they to the family of the deceased for their negligence and thumb-nosing at employment law???? hmmm.....

Posted by: atrahan29 | January 14, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The US will flex their immigration muscles when it comes to prosecuting for a wrong against their own.

If these illegals are doing their drywall and building and grass cutting are not touched until it's necessary.

Kick all of the illegals out period. When they are caught, process them out. Kids or not.

It's obvious that they have a bunch of children when they arrive to avoid deportation.

They can take their kids back with them or give them up to social services.

Posted by: Special_One40 | January 14, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

PS... to atrahan29. The CEO paid the victims family. Cash rules.

Posted by: Special_One40 | January 14, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Here's another case that'll never make into the statistics on illegal aliens' propensity to commit crimes. Because this guy wasn't charged with the girl's death, with fraud, driving without valid license, etc. we'll never see it reflected in the FBI statistics that the pro-crime lobby uses to illustrate how 'law-abiding' illegal aliens are compared to native-born Americans. These stats never reflect the actual criminality of the demographic because the illegal is usually given a choice between uncontested deportation and criminal charges, *then* deportation.

But frankly, the most surprising part of the peice is that Hsu didn't take the opportunity to throw a pity party for Flores-Fuentes as he does for most of the criminal aliens he writes about.

Posted by: WilyArmadilla | January 14, 2011 1:56 PM | Report abuse

on the other hand, it *does* take the starch out of the assertion that illegal entry isn't a criminal offense...

Posted by: WilyArmadilla | January 14, 2011 1:59 PM | Report abuse

makes me wonder about the guy that rear ended me, drove away and left me with a broken bumper. I can still remember the glazed look in his eyes as he refused to stop. Not even geico could get him to admit hitting me so I ended up paying for it myself.

Posted by: jercha | January 14, 2011 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Wait a sec... so illegal entry isn't illegal, but illegal re-entry is?

Posted by: Irato | January 14, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Special_One40 <----- in that case get your illegal dumb azz out of here to cause if we want to get into history this country belongs to the native americans and some states belonged to MEXICO fool

Posted by: jasmin1600 | January 14, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The company he worked for paid the victim's family, but they still don't seem to have paid any penalty for hiring an illegal. Had they run him through e-Verify, they'd have figured out his papers were falsified (as though they didn't already know that...)

Seems to me kmG still needs to pay a penalty for their crime of hiring an illegal.

There would be fewer illegals entering our country if there were fewer employers (like kmG) hiring illegals.

Posted by: yanas_girl | January 14, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

First, Marco was not responsible for the young woman's death. This was the conclusion of the final police report after they interviewed many witnesses and even re-created the accident using a similar trash truck voluntarily supplied by Marco's company. If anything, the police report found that the young woman bicyclist was operating her bike negligently. In fact, Judge Ellis made it quite clear today that he was not taking the accident into consideration in his sentencing. I'm not sure how this reporter missed that point.

Second, the car in which Marco was riding was stopped at the border in 1992 where the marijuana was discovered. "Possession with intent to distribute", a charge which merely reflects the quantity of drugs involved, is not the same as actual distribution which, obviously, never occured. Marco has been working hard and supporting his family and church ever since that incident and there is also some question about the extent of Marco's involvement at the time and the quality of his legal representation on that case, for which he did time and which was his only felony.

The judge said point blank that the 31 months was simply to send a signal to other immigrants, not because Marco was in any way a threat to society or in danger of returning after this final deportation. Indeed, his attorney testified that Marco has already made plans to go home and bring his family with him. Instead, we taxpayers are going to be spending 1000s of $$ to keep him behind bars for a couple of years. Is this really the best use of our tax dollars?

Posted by: annegf | January 14, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

One more comment: Marco did not use "fake" immigration documents. He did use expired ones. That is a huge difference, and one that seems to have escaped Mr. Hsu as well. I have to wonder if Mr. Hsu and I were sitting in the same courtroom this morning.

Posted by: annegf | January 14, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"was sentenced Friday to 31 months in prison for illegally re-entering the United States after he was deported in 1994 for importing and distributing 24 pounds of marijuana."

I wonder why he wasn't sentenced to 10-20 years for importing and distributing 24 pounds of marijuana. There certainly should be a stronger law for those who are once deported for criminal activity and re-appear on our shores. We don't need criminals here and there should be stiff sentences for criminals found here, whether or not they are found guilty of additional crimes. Enough is enough with the lawless people who treat life and others as if they have nothing to lose. They are criminals and they don't care what they do here, so give them a long sentence.

Posted by: oakland | January 14, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"was sentenced Friday to 31 months in prison for illegally re-entering the United States after he was deported in 1994 for importing and distributing 24 pounds of marijuana."

I wonder why he wasn't sentenced to 10-20 years for importing and distributing 24 pounds of marijuana. There certainly should be a stronger law for those who are once deported for criminal activity and re-appear on our shores. We don't need criminals here and there should be stiff sentences for criminals found here, whether or not they are found guilty of additional crimes. Enough is enough with the lawless people who treat life and others as if they have nothing to lose. They are criminals and they don't care what they do here, so give them a long sentence.

Posted by: oakland | January 14, 2011 4:18 PM | Report abuse

annegf, the police report may have determined that Marco didn't do anything wrong, but it seems that KMG was worried that a jury would see it differently - or why pay a multi-million dollar settlement. The police report was a joke and an expert was prepared to testify that the MPD made several errors in their analysis. Alice had the green light and was in a bike lane. She had the right-of-way. Marco did not.

Further, even if he did use expired papers, it sounds like he still got a driver's license using false birth dates. I can't imagine he didn't know that he was here illegally. So he showed willful intent to break the law.

Posted by: cranor | January 14, 2011 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The year before last my brother was broad sided by a gentleman who ran a red light on route 1 in NJ. The gentlemen who hit hit blew a .20. It was not his first but to date he has 8 DUI's. Oh by the way, this gentlemen is an illegal alien. I was three hours into a trip to NJ before I found out my brother was not too badly hurt - some broken ribs and so forth - and his beloved golden retriever was bruised and battered but basically all right.
How has he stayed out of jail and not be deported? His family and a so-called immigrant rights organization has hired a very good and very expensive lawyer to keep him out of jail and in this country. They argue that either putting him inside or deporting him would be a hardship to his family.

This guy has 2 DUI's since he hit my brother. He has no intention of giving up drinking and driving. So far he has not really hurt anybody, but who knows what the future will hold.

I want this guy off the road and my brother wants this guy off the road. My brother has been told that wanting this guy off the road means that he is a racist, or a xenophobe, or worse.

Posted by: jeffreed | January 14, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

@cranor: Being worried that a jury will see things differently -- especially in a country where there is still a lot of racism and we are talking about a dead young white girl vs. and older Mexican man with only basic English speaking skills -- is not the same as believing that Marco was at fault. In fact, the company kept Marco on after the accident, which indicates that they felt he was a good employee, not a liability.

I've read the police report in its entirety. It was posted on the Internet (haven't checked to see if it's still there) and I have no reason to disbelieve it. It said that Marco had checked to the best of his visual ability (once he began the turn, Alice was effectively in his blind spot), turned his signal on and started to turn. Alice, on the other hand, was speeding up the bike lane with her head down like a racing biker, in his blind spot, and she failed to slow down enough to notice what was going on around her. She plowed into the tire of the truck and was dragged under as the Marco, who could not see her (this was confirmed by police when they re-created the accident) continued the turn. When he realized what had happened, he stopped and stayed at the scene until the police arrived.

Oh, and no drugs or alcohol were involved in this case either. Like it or not, some accidents, however tragic, are just that: accidents.

Posted by: annegf | January 14, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Annegf, what's your connection with the case? And why do you keep referring to the defendant as if you're on a personal level with the guy? Would you feel the same if the two parties were reversed? I can't help but feel that you're more sympathetic to an illegal alien who has cost a young woman her life than you were the poor woman who died. If so, that is truly unfortunate and it is no wonder we are having so many issues with this problem in this country.

Posted by: HoosYourDaddy | January 14, 2011 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Special_One40 <----- in that case get your illegal dumb azz out of here to cause if we want to get into history this country belongs to the native americans and some states belonged to MEXICO fool

Posted by: jasmin1600 | January 14, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

------------------------------
Another reconquista heard from---YAWN! Hey, Jasmin---the "fool" is YOU! First of all, even the "native americans" [sic] were immigrants having walked across a land bridge from Asia. Second, there was no country when the Europeans showed up---thus no immigration laws to break. "Some states belonged to Mexico"---and your point is?
--------------------
annegf---I, too, wonder what your connection is to this case. After all, you are going to great extremes to defend "Marco".

Posted by: two4three2 | January 14, 2011 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Special_One40 <----- in that case get your illegal dumb azz out of here to cause if we want to get into history this country belongs to the native americans and some states belonged to MEXICO fool

Posted by: jasmin1600 | January 14, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

------------------------------
Another reconquista heard from---YAWN! Hey, Jasmin---the "fool" is YOU! First of all, even the "native americans" [sic] were immigrants having walked across a land bridge from Asia. Second, there was no country when the Europeans showed up---thus no immigration laws to break. "Some states belonged to Mexico"---and your point is?
--------------------
annegf---I, too, wonder what your connection is to this case. After all, you are going to great extremes to defend "Marco". The truth is this---if "Marco"(who had no business being here) wasn't in this country, Alice would still be alive.

Posted by: two4three2 | January 14, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Happy to clear up the mystery. Marco served as lector coordinator in our parish before he was picked up last summer following a tip from a zealous reporter in collaboration with the victim's mother who wasn't happy with the civil settlement she got. I got to know Marco and his family because I was one of the lectors he supervised. They are generous and faithful people. He is someone who has turned his life around since his earlier drug conviction and he was as upset by the accident as anyone else would be under the circumstances, but he did nothing to cause the accident. He was sober, he was not operating his vehicle in an unlawful or negligent manner according to the police report. This is why I am spending some time trying to set the record straight.

I am not unsympathetic to the fact that a young woman lost her life. It's regretable, but it was NOT Marco's fault. The accident could have happened to anyone, born in the USA or foreign born, documented or undocumented. In fact, similar accidents have happened to many bicyclists because too many are unaware of the "blind spots" and the importance of passing large vehicles with caution.

Posted by: annegf | January 14, 2011 10:37 PM | Report abuse

annegf, my problem is with the police report. I've read it too. I don't believe their conclusion is correct. I don't think the problem was that a girl on a 20 year old bike wearing flip-flops was biking too fast - as they conclude. The police can be, and often are, wrong. It is well established that they have a bias against cyclists and that the police, as well as others, have a bias towards survivors. So having you cite the police report as proof that he was innocent is not convincing. Police reports are not binding. Judges decide against them all the time. Juries decide against them all the time. The police are not judges, they're investigators.

The fact is: she had the right of way. He did not yield the right of way to her. That he did not see her is not a defense, but an admission of guilt in my opinion. I suspect that a jury would have seen it the same way.

Posted by: cranor | January 14, 2011 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Defend him all you want, Anne, but he was in this country illegally and had gotten his drivers license using fake documents.

He has no business being here and stating that fact has nothing to do with racism. (What race is "illegal alien"?--- and there is no "Hispanic" race.) In the past, ICE has deported illegals back to 189 different countries. That covers every race, religion and ethnicity. Like "Marco", they all have one thing in common---they have no business being here and need to leave.

He is not this wonderful person you're trying to portray. He was deported once before and came right back. To further add to his unlawful behavior, he obtained his drivers license using fake papers. This is hardly the description of a "generous and faithful" person.

And once again---if he weren't here, Alice would still be alive.

Posted by: two4three2 | January 14, 2011 11:38 PM | Report abuse

annegf, wrote in part:

"I am not unsympathetic to the fact that a young woman lost her life. It's regretable, but it was NOT Marco's fault. The accident could have happened to anyone, born in the USA or foreign born, documented or undocumented. In fact, similar accidents have happened to many bicyclists because too many are unaware of the "blind spots" and the importance of passing large vehicles with caution."

NO! You are wrong. First, the defendant is an ILLEGAL ALIEN. Second, the facts and circumstances regarding his Virginia "drivers license" are highly suspect. It appears he was driving without a drivers license. Third, had he not been in America, the fatal crash would not have occured. Fourth, Marco Rosendo Flores-Fuentes, 48, of Mexico, was responsible for the untimel death of Alice Swanson.

Nothing avails but to deport all illegal aliens.

No amnesty of any kind for any illegal alien.

Posted by: jnrentz@aol.com | January 15, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

annegf, wrote in part:

"I am not unsympathetic to the fact that a young woman lost her life. It's regretable, but it was NOT Marco's fault. The accident could have happened to anyone, born in the USA or foreign born, documented or undocumented. In fact, similar accidents have happened to many bicyclists because too many are unaware of the "blind spots" and the importance of passing large vehicles with caution."

NO! You are wrong. First, the defendant is an ILLEGAL ALIEN. Second, the facts and circumstances regarding his Virginia "drivers license" are highly suspect. It appears he was driving without a valid drivers license. Third, had he not been in America, the fatal crash would not have occured. Fourth, Marco Rosendo Flores-Fuentes, 48, of Mexico, was responsible for the untimely death of Alice Swanson. Do not forget, he was not supposed to be here in the first place.

Nothing avails but to deport all illegal aliens.

No amnesty of any kind for any illegal alien.

Posted by: jnrentz@aol.com | January 15, 2011 3:15 PM | Report abuse

So, in the end, it comes down to belief since nobody on this thread was present when the accident happened. I believe that the police investigation and final report are complete and accurate; "cranor" doesn't. "two4three2" and "jnrentz" believe the accident would not have occured had Marco not been in the country illegally. I believe that since we are talking about a trash truck making its normal morning rounds and no evidence that the driver did anything negligent, the accident would have still happened with somebody else at the wheel.

The judge believes that by giving Marco a 31 month prison sentence rather than deporting him immediately, he is deterring other immigrants from attempting to enter the country illegally. I believe this decision is a waste of taxpayers' money and makes about as much sense as arguing that the fact that 99.9% will not win the Powerball will deter people from playing the Powerball. It is the nature of human beings to want to try their luck whether in the lottery or trying to get in, stay in, and work in the United States without getting caught.

Posted by: annegf | January 16, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

If you want the courts to jail all the law breaking illegals means that you are a racist.
I can live with that.

Posted by: captgrumpy | January 16, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Annegf---Get it through your head---Marco was deported previously yet he sneaked right back into this country. To add insult to injury, he used fake documents to obtain a VA DL. If he wasn't here---Alice would still be alive! In fact, you can say the same thing about any US citizen who died at the hands of an illegal.

Comparing playing Powerball to being in this country illegally is comparing apples to oranges---and you know it, too. Buying a Powerball ticket is a perfectly legal thing to do if you aren't a minor.

As for it being "the nature of human beings to want to try their luck...trying to get in, stay in, and work in the United States without being caught"---Do NOT lump all human beings in with amoral illegal aliens! There are perhaps billions of people in the world who would love to move to a first world country---yet they somehow manage to either do it legally or just stay put rather than break laws.

Stop trying to make excuses for Marco! It's bad enough he got caught running drugs across the border but instead of staying in Mexico where he belongs after being deported, he sneaked right back in. Cry me a river about how poor illegals are! Many of them have jobs in their native countries but think they'll get rich making minimum wage here!

Posted by: two4three2 | January 16, 2011 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Just on question to two4three2: Do you think that sentencing Marco to 31 months in jail is going to deter anybody from coming into the US illegally who wants to do so?

Posted by: annegf | January 16, 2011 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Annegf---Maybe it will---maybe it won't. And your point is...what? That we should just throw open our borders and not guard them? That we should give amnesty to anyone who manages to overstay a tourist visa or sneak across a border? That we should give amnesty while many who have jumped through all the hoops required to immigrate legally get pushed further back in line to accomodate law breakers like Marco?

Stop trying to defend Marco. And stop trying to deflect. The man is a convicted criminal who was previously deported yet chose to sneak back in here and commit fraud by obtaining a VA DL. There is no excuse for any of his actions.

Posted by: two4three2 | January 16, 2011 9:47 PM | Report abuse

so much wrong here. I agree, corporations should pay heavily for hiring illegals.

can we not keep track of people coming and going? It's not that hard, is it?

a side note...if marijuana was legal, this guy wouldn've had a "job" in the us

Posted by: weblurker1 | January 17, 2011 2:32 AM | Report abuse

Annegf:
You cannot say that drugs/alcohol were not involved. The police never examined Marco for drugs or alcohol, even after killing Swanson. This is only one highlight from the sort of "investigation" done by the MPD.

Posted by: sjelliott | January 17, 2011 2:28 PM | Report abuse

PS: I have nothing against Marco per se, or his immigrant status. I do have a problem with the sort of "investigation" that allows dangerous drivers to continue on our streets.

e.g.
1. someone convicted of drug possession and distribution was able to easily forge a commercial driver's license, and can zoom around in a multi-ton truck.
2. After killing someone, no one even checked to see if he was under the influence, was actually licensed, etc.
3. Marco was involved in something like five collisions in the months surrounding the Swanson death. Yet no one thought to look deeper, or pull his license.
4. The Swanson family hired several experts that came to completely different conclusions to the MPD report. You might say that this merely reflects "hired guns." However, has the MPD even looked at these reports, and considered why there is such a difference? If two experts came to completely different conclusions, you shouldn't just take the word of one of them.
5. Why is the DC council not looking into kMG? Why are they driving around DC streets?

Posted by: sjelliott | January 17, 2011 2:44 PM | Report abuse

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