It's a story of dual identities. Something 10News discovered during a five-year investigation into the evictions of California retirees on the Baja Coast.
"They seem quite adamant about just taking the homes," one retiree told 10News.
The Mexican military helped evict people from 140 homes at Punta Banda, near Ensenada, in late 2000.
One of the men who used Mexican soldiers to kick people out of their homes was Steven Carlos Pedroarena. The 10News investigative team was curious. How did this man, in particular, get assistance from the Mexican government?
Records uncovered by 10News show Stevan Pedroarena is an American citizen. He has a U.S. Social Security card and a birth certificate registered with San Diego County showing he was born at Mercy Hospital in San Diego on July 4, 1951.
10News became even more intrigued when its investigators found more records in Mexico, including another birth certificate showing Pedroarena was also born in Mexico at his family's ranch in Tecate. The name of that birth certificate is Esteban Carlos Pedroarena Toomey.
Ralph Nieders invested in a crop at the Pedroarena ranch. "This guy has two different identities," Nieders told 10News.
Pedroarena is now charged with trying to bribe Nieders in a bankruptcy case filed by Pedroarena in 1999.
10News investigative reporter Thom Jensen confronted Pedroarena outside the Federal Court in San Diego.
"We found two birth certificates for you. Do you go by Steven or Esteban? Sir?"
Pedroarena did not respond.
Visas and passports obtained by Pedroarena using his Mexican identity have also been discovered by 10News.
Jensen showed the U.S. entry Visa to the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana.
"If he fraudulently obtained a Visa, then that's something our fraud unit will investigate", Consulate spokesperson Liza Davis said.
But the investigation did not stop there. 10News also found birth certificates on both sides of the border for three Pedroarena family members.
One is a 55-year-old U.S. Border Patrol agent named Donald Michael Phillips. His Mexican birth certificate says he was born in Tecate and named Don Miguel Phillips Pedroarena.
The other is the CEO a major San Diego company. Robert Phillip Akins is founder of Cymer Inc., a defense contractor worth more than $400 million.
Akins and Phillips have not commented on their dual identities.
Records kept in Mexico indicate both men used those identities in the late 1970s to disinherit Pedroarena's sister from her share of the Tecate ranch and again in 1995 to transfer their shares of the ranch to another family member.
10News went further and discovered this practice of having double identities is widespread. Diplomats at the U.S. Consulate and at the Mexican Consulate in San Diego confirm there are possibly hundreds of thousands of people with birth certificates on both sides of the border.
Former U.S. Attorney General Peter Nunez agrees these dual identities could be used to avoid paying taxes or breech border security measures. Nunez said, "The FBI or the US Attorney's office should be looking into all of this stuff."
Government officials in Mexico and experts on Mexico/U.S. relations at two universities told 10News families have purposely kept their dual identities secret for generations.
Those sources declined to talk publicly to 10News about the practice, because they said politically, it's a Pandora's box.
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