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Ortiz's friend jailed

Marquez charged with identity fraud

One of David Ortiz's best friends -- a native of the Dominican Republic who attended the last two All-Star Games with the Red Sox slugger and has been seen with him at Fenway Park -- has been living a lie, according to federal authorities who charged him this week with three counts of identification fraud.

The man known on Yawkey Way as Edwin "Monga" Garcia actually is Felix Leopoldo Marquez Galice, federal prosecutors alleged in US District Court in Boston. Customs officials arrested Marquez, 35, of Allston, after he returned last week from the All-Star Game in San Francisco.

"I don't know anything about it," Ortiz said last night in the Red Sox clubhouse.

Beginning in 2003, Marquez allegedly submitted a series of applications to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in which he claimed to be a US citizen named Edwin Manuel Cotto Garcia, of Puerto Rico, according to a criminal complaint charging him with fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents; fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents; and false claim to US citizenship.

Marquez was released Wednesday on $10,000 cash bail. His court-appointed attorney, Charles W. Rankin, said Marquez has no criminal record.

Marquez did not return messages left on his phones and the voice mail system at his apartment building.

"He's charged with three things which relate to his identity and he is here legally" in the United States, Rankin said.

Rankin added, "In the scheme of things in federal court, it's a minor case."

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Marquez, if convicted, could face probation or up to six months in prison. The US attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case, said Marquez also could face possible deportation if he were convicted.

Rankin would not comment on whether Marquez has any connection to Ortiz, or on how Marquez came up with $10,000 in cash for bail. Marquez was assigned a court-appointed attorney, paid for by the government, after he filed a financial affidavit with the court claiming he is indigent.

Red Sox spokesman John Blake said he was "very vaguely" familiar with the case and said the team would make no comment on it.

At the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh, MLB.com described "Edwin Garcia" fraternizing with Ortiz during the Home Run Derby at PNC Park.

"As Ortiz paused late in the second round to collect himself, Garcia and another Team Papi member came out to refresh him with a towel and some encouragement," MLB.com reported.

The news site quoted the purported Garcia as saying he befriended Ortiz as a teenager in the Dominican Republic and introduced him to a baseball scout, Ramon De Los Santos, who signed Ortiz in 1992 to his first professional contract with the Seattle Mariners.

"He's my best friend ever," the story quoted "Garcia" as saying of Ortiz.

Though Marquez has been seen with Ortiz at Fenway Park, he has not been granted access to the Red Sox clubhouse, Blake said. Major League Baseball has beefed up enforcement of rules banning anyone but close relatives of players from entering clubhouses.

According to a 10-page affidavit filed by a special agent with US Immigration and Customs, Marquez submitted documents, including a Puerto Rican birth certificate and Social Security card, to the Registry claiming he was Garcia. The affidavit alleges Marquez repeatedly represented to the Registry that Garcia was a US citizen and checked off a box indicating he wished to register to vote.

Boston voter records show "Edwin Garcia," listed at a Roslindale address cited in the affidavit, was registered as a Democrat in 2004.

Prosecutors also allege that Marquez used his actual name to file a visa application in 2005 in which he falsely stated he had never been unlawfully present in the United States. In fact, the complaint alleges, he had been unlawfully present since 2003.

The affidavit indicates investigators discovered the alleged fraud when they used facial recognition software to compare photos of Marquez applying for driver's licenses in 2003 as Garcia and in 2006 as himself. The actual Garcia, the complaint indicates, was arrested on narcotics charges in Puerto Rico in 2001.

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