A Mexican national who has lived in the U.S. illegally for 28 years and has been deported five times was sentenced Monday to nine months in jail for his third drunken-driving offense in Chesterfield County and felony identity fraud.

The defendant, Mario Santos-Ochoa, now faces deportation again after serving his time. Immigration authorities have placed a detainer on him.

Santos-Ochoa, 44, has been raising a family with four children — the oldest is 21 — during his unlawful stay in the U.S. over the past three decades, his attorney said in court Monday.

He previously was removed from the country on five prior occasions from September 1997 to September 2014, and after his last removal, “he illegally re-entered the United States again at some point thereafter,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell.

He was convicted three times in federal court in Texas of re-entering the U.S. after being deported — in 2009, 2011 and 2012 — and sentenced to seven months, 180 days and 15 months, respectively, in federal prison, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in southern Texas.

According to evidence in his most recent DUI case, a Chesterfield officer was driving on Hopkins Road about 2:45 a.m. on Nov. 4 when Santos-Ochoa made a sudden lane change and the officer had to jam on her brakes to avoid hitting him, Chesterfield prosecutor Ben Garrison told the court. The officer safely pulled him over near McHoward Road.

Santos-Ochoa’s blood alcohol content registered 0.11 percent, or 0.3 of a percent above the legal driving limit of 0.08 percent.

Garrison noted that Santos-Ochoa was convicted just two years ago of his second DUI, which followed his first in 2009. He also has been convicted three times of giving a false identify to police.

“He is a danger to Chesterfield and a danger to the community,” Garrison said.

Garrison urged the court to sentence Santos-Ochoa at the high end of discretionary state sentencing guidelines, which called for an active jail term of seven months on the low end and 11 month at the high end.

Catherine Lawler, the defendant’s attorney, told the court that her client is a hard-working family man with four children, ranging in age from 9 to 21. They are all U.S. citizens because they were born here.

Lawler said Santos-Ochoa has no prior convictions for drugs or violence. “His record has to do with alcohol and illegal re-entry,” the attorney said.

She noted that in the case of his last DUI in August 2015, for which he was convicted in February 2016, he registered a similar, relatively low but illegal blood alcohol level of 0.12.

After Santos-Ochoa was stopped by police, Lawler said, he initially didn’t provide the officer with a false name. He had no driver’s license, and when the officer insisted he produce something, he presented a card with another person’s name on it. Garrison said the card was a contractor ID.

“He certainly made a mistake” and has spent the last nine months paying for it in jail, Lawler said.

Lawler also told the court that Santos-Ochoa doesn’t believe he has an alcohol problem. She attributed his drinking habits to cultural differences in the use of alcohol.

However, when he was sentenced in federal court in 2012 for re-entering the U.S. after being deported, the court recommended he be placed in an institution where he could receive drug and alcohol abuse treatment, documents show.

Apparently taking into account that immigration authorities have placed a detainer on Santos-Ochoa, which makes him subject to deportation, Chesterfield Circuit Judge Frederick G. Rockwell III sentenced him to five years in prison with all but seven months suspended on the felony third offense DUI charge and fined him $1,000.

The judge sentenced him to an additional five years with all but two months suspended on the felony identify fraud count.

The judge told the defendant, who can speak and understand English, that if he returns to the U.S. after being deported and is caught again, he could face up to nine years and three months in prison — the portion of his sentence that was suspended Monday.

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(32) comments


He's here illegally, has been convicted of dui 3 time and all he gets is 7 months. Perfect example of why we need better immigration laws.

Alice Johnson

What happened to the three strikes law? I don't have a problem with law-abiding Latino people, illegal or legal, but this guy is not the sharpest crayon in the box. What I do have problem with is this jackass being put out of the country five times and his three DUI's. This is a case where I would not mind my hard earned tax-payer dollars being spent on his 25-years to life prison term. If he is deported, he will come back again and he will drive drunk again. My children and the rest of my family drive the streets of Chesterfield and surrounding areas, this joker could kill one of us or anyone else out there. Lock him up and throw away the key. Obviously he does not respect deportation or any other laws.

Drake D Butler

No drugs, no violence, hardly MS-13 is he? What a threat to national security!

Fred Mertz

He was using someone else's social security number. I suggest you research the consequences and expense incurred by those who are victims of identity theft. If he stole your digits I suspect you'd be singing a different tune.

Drake D Butler

Where did you glean that bit of intelligence? It wasn't in the article.


Cultural differences, implying it is ok to drive drunk in Mexico? It's considered a serious criminal offense, not a slap on the risk like the US. No driver's license, identity theft, repeated DUI's and repeated illegal entry. I wonder what the attorney and bleeding hearts will say after he has his sixth illegal entry and 4th DUI and killing someone?

Jeff Kleb

Makes you wonder how a US citizen would be treated by Mexico for doing similar things down there.

Tom Terrific

Congratulations! they finally found the one guy out of thousands guilty of all this stuff. now the right wing people can just wind up and say all the immigrants are bad evil people. Go ahead, do it , we know you’re going to


No conservative has ever said all immigrants, legal or illegal are bad or evil people. That is a lie. Clearly, all illegals have broken our laws. Go ahead, make excuses or deny.

gwenn talbot

“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.” Trump's words. The president referred to Mexicans as “rapists,“ “killers” and “murderers" during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle. You support the King, right?

James McIntyre

Strong Borders would have prevented this . . . Build the Wall !

gwenn talbot

Pay for the wall!

Michael Karabinos

Mr Gorbachev, Tear down this......

Oh wait, wrong decade


More proof that never vetted, illegal "diversity is our strength."


Wow. Look at the attorney's comment: "Lawler (the attorney) also told the court that Santos-Ochoa doesn't believe he has an alcohol problem. She attributed his drinking habits to cultural differences in the use of alcohol." If this man has been in the US for 28 years (not to mention returning multiple times after deportation), and has been arrested twice before just in Chesterfield County for DUI,and hasn't learned that the US culture does not allow driving under the influence of alcohol, he is the poster child for why illegal immigration isn't good for the country. Must we wait until he kills innocent people with this behavior? This is shocking, that his attorney suggests that multiple violations should be easily excused because he isn't being arrested for selling drugs or a violent crime. DUI's endanger innocent people.


I agree the attorney is an idiot. But I don't really think you can blame this on illegal immigration, plenty of citizens behave the same way. He should have been locked up on the second DUI, IMHO.


Adrian Flanagan - His attorney's responsibility is to give him the best defense possible without lying. That's the defense attorney's job.

gwenn talbot

Sounds like his attorney fought hard for him. An attorney with a heart. Yippeeee!

gwenn talbot

Yes plenty of citizens behave the same way ..... doctors, lawyers, all those folks who indulge in multiple cocktails in local bars, and da, da, da. So many folks with drinking problems, not to excuse this guy, but he does come from a different culture. Isn't there a drug this person could be given that would make him sick if he drinks? Maybe he could be followed by a probation officer. He has four children here and he evidently works. Too bad he can't or won't get help for his drinking problem but then so many others also don't get help.

James McIntyre

He needs to be where cultural differences will never effect him again send him to Mexico NOW ! If he returns and is caught he gets Life in Prison !


Diane Perkins - You're right, of course. But his attorney has the responsibility for defending him as vigorously as possible without lying. It looks like Lawlor was doing that.


well said.

Ron Melancon

Wound his time be the same as a legal American Citizen ?


Sure. Separate offenses.


On second thought, the sentence does seem pretty strange. Does the judge think deportation to Mexico is a greater punishment than being imprisoned? I haven't heard that Mexico is THAT bad.

Jeff Kleb

This guy is probably the poster child for the Corey Stewart campaign.

By the way, why is ever illegal alien arrested always said to be a "hard-working man who loves his family?" As though there are US citizens who don't work hard and love their families as well. Sheesh!


I'm not following your logic (if there is any to follow). How does describing this particular illegal alien as a "hard-working man who loves his family" imply there are "US citizens who don't work hard and love their families as well"?

gwenn talbot

Have you tried to find a reliable worker lately?

Jeff Kleb

* every illegal alien (I wish there were an "edit" button on this thing!)

Jeff Kleb

I was just pointing out that old cliche (hard-working family man, etc.) that is always uttered about some illegal alien when they are apprehended for committing a crime or being a fugitive. Heck, you hear it about our own criminals too.


Jeff Kleb - Judges hear that mantra every time someone charged with DUI (third offense is a felony in Virginia) is brought before them. I'm sure they ignore it, but it gives the defendant the impression that his/her attorney is doing a good job.

gwenn talbot

There should definitely be an edit button here.

Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. Comments cannot be edited or deleted once posted. To flag a comment to the page administrator, click “report” next to that comment.

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