United States v. Elisabet Kerese Alvarez

Case: 16-17416 Date Filed: 04/23/2018 Page: 1 of 16 [DO NOT PUBLISH] IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT ________________________ No. 16-17416 Non-Argument Calendar ________________________ D.C. Docket No. 1:15-cr-20579-JAL-13 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, versus ELISABET KERESE ALVAREZ, Defendant-Appellant. ________________________ Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida ________________________ (April 23, 2018) Before MARCUS, ROSENBAUM and FAY, Circuit Judges. PER CURIAM: Case: 16-17416 Date Filed: 04/23/2018 Page: 2 of 16 Elisabet Kerese Alvarez appeals her conviction for one count of marriage fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. We affirm. I. BACKGROUND In 2015, a grand jury indicted Alvarez, Rolando Mulet, Odalys Marrero, Osvaldo Lastre Duran, Manual Andres Gomez, and nine other defendants with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, as well as substantive offenses, including marriage fraud, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1325(c). Alvarez was charged with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud (Count 1) and marriage fraud (Count 6). According to the indictment, Marrero and Mulet, the owners of Tita’s Tramite & Travel (“Tita’s”),1 arranged fraudulent marriages between non-Cuban aliens and Cuban citizens for the purpose of fraudulently qualifying the non-Cuban aliens for immigration benefits, including status as lawful permanent residents in the United States. 2 The indictment alleged that Alvarez, a Venezuelan citizen, and Duran, a Cuban citizen, entered a fraudulent marriage on April 11, 2014, in order to obtain status for Alvarez as a lawful permanent resident. Alvarez moved to sever her case from her codefendants; after 1 See United States v. Mulet, No. 16-16400, 2018 WL 1478029 (11th Cir. Mar. 27, 2018). 2 Under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Pub. L. No. 89-732, 80 Stat. 1161, a Cuban citizen may adjust his status to lawful permanent resident after living in the United States for a year and one day. The spouse of a lawful permanent resident Cuban may also adjust her status to lawful permanent resident. Id. 2 Case: 16-17416 Date Filed: 04/23/2018 Page: 3 of 16 the district court granted a motion to continue her trial, her case was severed and she was tried separately. Alvarez filed a motion to suppress statements made during two encounters with federal agents Mildred Laboy and Roberto Valle: (1) an interview at Tita’s on July 1, 2014 (“the Tita’s interview”); and (2) an interview at the Homeland Security Investigations Office (“HSI”) on July 2, 2014 (“the HSI interview”). Alvarez argued that both interviews were custodial interrogations and that the statements made during the two interviews should be suppressed. Alvarez contended that she was not informed that she was free to leave, the agents became verbally aggressive during the HSI interview, she was not given her Miranda rights,3 and she had not waived her rights. Following a hearing and supplemental briefing, the magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation (“R&R”), recommending that the district court deny Alvarez’s motion to suppress in large part and grant the motion to the extent ...

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