Immigration

He’s accused of lying on his citizenship form, but a terrible secret came to light

Sidnei Augusto Venceslau
Sidnei Augusto Venceslau

A lie on the form to become a U.S. citizen has put a man who has lived in South Florida for more than a decade — including the last two years in Miami-Dade jail — in legal trouble once again.

Sidnei Augusto Venceslau, 45, was accused at the end of December of illegally obtaining his citizenship and misusing evidence in the naturalization process. He now faces a trial in a Miami federal court in which he could be sentenced to a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Venceslau is a native of Brazil who entered the United States legally in 2004 and became a legal resident one year after his arrival, according to documents filed in court.

According to the affidavit, Venceslau lied on the N-400 form that he submitted in May 2008 to initiate the process of citizenship and repeated the lie during several stages of the process.

Specifically, the lie focused on the answer “no” to question No. 15: “Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?”

Venceslau confirmed during his interview with an immigration agent in January 2009 that he had “no arrests, no DUI, [or] other offenses,” according to court documents.

The immigration authorities discovered the false statement eight years after Venceslau became a U.S. citizen, when in November 2017 he pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse.

A police investigation revealed that the man had sexually abused a teenager for seven years, from February 2008 to March 2015. The police report of his arrest in August 2015 indicates that one of the incidents occurred during a road trip.

After pleading guilty, Venceslau was sentenced to two years and six months in prison, plus five years of probation.

He was released in December — but not set free. He was immediately transferred to a detention center of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where he is still being held.

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