DA: Charges were dismissed 'in error' [Times-News, Burlington, N.C.]By By Michael Abernethy, Times-News, Burlington, N.C.McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Dec. 12--GRAHAM -- Criminal charges against a woman facing deportation after using a fake Social Security card to apply for cable TV service were wrongly dismissed, Alamance County's district attorney said Wednesday.
Lorena Yanez-Mata, 26, was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses on July 30, after she presented a false Social Security card at Time Warner Cable on Huffman Mill Road. An Alamance County assistant district attorney dismissed the charge in district court Tuesday.
Alamance County District Attorney Pat Nadolski said Wednesday the charge was dismissed "in error." The criminal investigation into Yanez-Mata's use of the Social Security card will continue and "charges are likely forthcoming," Nadolski said.
"I was not aware until today that (the charge) was dismissed," Nadolski said. "I've addressed the issue with staff but it's ultimately my responsibility."
Nadolski wouldn't speak further about the pending case and declined to comment about whether anyone was disciplined as a result of the mistake.
In court documents, Alamance County Assistant District Attorney Craig Thompson wrote that he dismissed the obtaining property by false pretenses charge because the use of the Social Security card didn't meet state statutes for the crime. Obtaining property by false pretenses is primarily a financial crime meant to cheat or defraud someone out of money or valuables, according to state statutes.
"The defendant possessed a false Social Security card but gave correct name and address and paid for service," Thompson wrote in the note. "The facts of the case do not seem to support requirements of this statute."
Through an interpreter, Yanez-Mata admitted Tuesday that the Social Security card was falsified.
Supporters of Yanez-Mata -- who has lived in the U.S. illegally for eight years and is scheduled to appear for a deportation hearing Thursday in Charlotte -- rallied outside the Burlington Time Warner Cable office Tuesday. They say she shouldn't be deported because she wasn't committing crimes while in the U.S. Yanez-Mata also has a 7-year-old daughter.
On July 30, during her application for cable service, Yanez-Mata was led from the business and arrested after an employee alerted an off-duty Burlington police officer who worked security there that the Social Security card appeared altered. An on-duty officer was called to the scene and she was arrested.
In a statement Tuesday, Time Warner spokesman Scott Pryzwansky referred to Yanez-Mata's arrest and possible deportation as "an unfortunate coincidence of events." When customers establish service with the company, they are asked to show identification to prevent identity theft, the statement said.
Chris Verdeck, assistant chief of the Burlington Police Department, said officers don't target immigrants to determine if they're living in the United States without proper documentation.
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