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Charged with green card fraud, brother of UGA murder suspect

An undocumented Venezuelan man residing in Athens, Georgia, has been charged with possessing a fraudulent green card, according to officials. Diego Ibarra, 29, the brother of a suspect accused of a murder on the University of Georgia campus, was charged Friday night and is currently in state custody. If convicted, he could face up to ten years in prison.

Diego Ibarra’s charges came to light when authorities learned of his undocumented status during an investigation into the murder on the UGA campus. Diego’s brother, Jose Ibarra, 26, is facing state charges in connection with the death of Laken Hope Riley, a 22-year-old Augusta University nursing student.

Diego Ibarra was approached by law enforcement because he matched the description of his brother, who was a suspect in the UGA murder case. Diego presented a fraudulent U.S. permanent resident card, which led to his arrest. Despite being released from immigration custody pending adjudication of his asylum claim, Diego has a history of arrests in Athens, including driving under the influence, shoplifting, and failure to appear for a previous offense.

Melissa Hodges, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, confirmed Diego’s undocumented status but could not provide details about his brother’s status. Jose Ibarra, initially a suspect in Riley’s death, is now not believed to have had a connection to the victim.

Riley was found near UGA’s Intramural Fields with visible injuries after failing to return from a run. Despite CPR efforts, she could not be revived, and authorities suspect foul play. An autopsy is pending, but officials are investigating her death as a homicide.

UGA Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark stated that the attack on Riley appeared to be a “crime of opportunity” and emphasized that she was not a UGA student. Both universities canceled classes and events in response to the incident.

Authorities are still investigating the case, and details about Jose Ibarra’s immigration status remain unclear. However, it is confirmed that he is not a U.S. citizen.

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