LOS ANGELES -- A former Guatemalan police chief has been found guilty of lying on his U.S. immigration papers about a prior conviction for killing two political activists in his country, U.S. authorities said Monday.
Catalino Esteban Valiente Alonzo, an 82-year-old resident of Fontana, California, was convicted last week of using a green card obtained by making a false statement, U.S. prosecutors said in a statement.
Valiente was police chief in the Guatemalan city of Quetzaltenango in the 1980s during the country's more than three-decade civil war.
In 1987, Valiente was arrested and charged in Guatemala for the kidnapping and murder of two political activists whose bodies were found beaten and tortured on the side of a road, U.S. authorities said.
Valiente was convicted of the killings in 1989 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. A year later, the charges were dismissed by an appellate court and Valiente was released from custody and traveled to the United States.
In 1993, the Guatemalan Supreme Court vacated the appellate ruling and reinstated the convictions, U.S. officials said.
Four years later, Valiente applied for a green card after marrying an American citizen. On his immigration paperwork, Valiente failed to disclose that he had a prior arrest in Guatemala, though a question on the form asked about run-ins with the law, U.S. prosecutors said. Prosecutors said Valiente entered the U.S. with the card in 2013.
It was not immediately clear what brought the case to the attention of U.S. authorities. Valiente was arrested on the immigration charge in 2018.
Valiente has been living in the United States since 1990 but did not work in law enforcement here, Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, said.
Valiente is scheduled to be sentenced on May 24. His attorney, Christy O'Çonnor, declined to comment.