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5 Indicted in Sale of False Birth Data

Five Southern California residents were indicted Monday by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles on charges of providing phony birth certificates to aliens so that they could collect food stamps, medical benefits and loans.

“This was a large-scale and highly sophisticated setup that had been in operation for 15 years,” said U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service District Director Ernest Gustafson.

He said hundreds of illegal aliens paid between $500 and $2,250 for affidavits certifying that they had been born in private homes in Irwindale and Baldwin Park. The affidavits, seeking delayed birth certificates, were filed with the state Department of Vital Statistics.

Gustafson said the birth certificates were used to obtain a variety of benefits, including food stamps, Medi-Cal treatment, FHA loans, unemployment checks, U.S. passports and immigration visas.

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Indicted were Margarita Serrano Haro, 44, of Baldwin Park; Manuel Larios-Ramirez, 46, La Puente; Dr. Harriet Elizabeth Hightower, 82, a Fontana chiropractor; Chris Baca Martinez, 68, and her daughter, Juanita Martinez Chico, 39, who live together in Irwindale.


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