- Date of Crime: 2004-07-01
- Location of crime:
- Hometown: Denver, CO
- Sex: M
- Age: 32
- Sex: M
- Arrest Status: convicted
- Criminal Record: Perpetrator had a history of prior felonies
- DUI: Perpetrator was DUI or charged with DUI.
On July 1, 2004, Justin Goodman, 32, of Denver, CO was killed when illegal alien Roberto Martinez-Ruiz slammed into a motorcycle Goodman was riding on in Thorton, CO. The SUV that hit Goodman never stopped. Goodman bled to death on the side of the road.
Thornton investigators spent months tracking down the suspect and finally arrested 33-year-old Martinez-Ruiz. Police said he is an illegal immigrant who had phony immigration documents and had been in trouble with the law several times before. ABC 7NEWS Investigators found that since 1996, Martinez-Ruiz used six different aliases, had arrests for driving under the influence, failure to appear in court, probation violation, careless driving, driving with a revoked license, and hit and run. He has spent time in jail and in 2000, his license was revoked for five years.
Despite all the arrests, time in jail, and appearances in court, 7NEWS has confirmed that no local law enforcement agency, prosecutor or judge ever contacted federal immigration officials in Denver to have him deported.
"How could he possibly escape justice this many times and put out on the street where he was able to kill Justin? I mean, we were outraged," Carol Vizzi, Goodman's mother, said. Not once was his name turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE officials told a TV reporter — not until the accident that killed Goodman. "We have that level of criminal right in our hands, and we're just letting them go," said Vizzi.
Justin Goodman's widow, Christine, said the fix for the immigration system must start with stemming the flow of illegal immigrants across the border. "I want people who are benefiting from illegal immigration to understand the money isn't worth it, and our children and husbands and families' lives are more important…Employers shouldn't be hiring them because when they do, they're supporting them to be here and slip through the system. I know not all immigrants are criminals. But if there were stronger enforcement, Justin would still be here, and Roberto would have been deported long ago."
"Anybody who goes in the court system, we should be getting contact on that," said Jeff Copp, the agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "I'm deeply sorry. He should have been under our radar screen. We should have been contacted by state and locals with the rap sheet this guy has, and I don't know why we haven't had contact with him before," Copp said.
When Martinez-Ruiz was arrested, a local TV reporter began asking questions about his family's immigration status. The result: ICE arrested Martinez-Ruiz's wife, brother and sister-in-law at his preliminary hearing in state court. Prosecutors had to intervene to keep ICE from deporting them because they needed their testimony to convict Martinez-Ruiz. That wasn't the first or the last time such a thing has happened, local prosecutors say.
However, after the trial, Martinez-Ruiz's family disappeared into the shadows. They have not been deported or even found again, Vizzi said she has been told.
Martinez-Ruiz was convicted and sentenced to 16 and1/2 years in prison for crimes that included leaving the scene of an accident involving a death, tampering with evidence and contributing to the delinquency of a minor (for encouraging his daughter and niece to lie to police for him).
At the trial, Martinez-Ruiz said he was very sorry for what he did and asked the judge for a second chance because he had prior convictions on his record.
Justin Goodman leaves a wife and daughter, 10.
In a follow up to the tragedy, ABC 7NEWS investigator John Ferrugia found that the Martinez-Ruiz family used phony documents, and in apparent collusion with realtors and lenders, received fraudulent loans to buy two homes in Thornton which were backed by F.H.A. loans. 7NEWS learned that part of the scheme also involved phony W-2 forms and pay stubs from a Colorado cleaning service, Golden Eagle Cleaning, which was set up by Daniel Martinez, a family member, with fraudulent documents, as income verification to obtain the loan, Ferrugia said.
There's lenders out there that will do a completely fraudulent loan to get them a house so that they can stay here," said John Vizzi, who is in the real estate and mortgage lending business and he is the uncle of Goodman. "My nephew would definitely have been alive today if they hadn't made those loans," said Vizzi.
Adams County district attorney Don Quick charged three members of the family and a realtor with several felonies.
Both houses were foreclosed on which cost taxpayers a total of about $140,000 because the FHA protected the lenders. This is only one of thousands of such cases costing taxpayers millions in the state of Colorado alone. Most of it simply goes unnoticed because no government agency has time or the mandate to investigate.
The Joy Of Justin’s Kids Memorial
2JUL04, ABC7 News, Denver
SUV Driver Runs Down Biker, Flees
8FEB05, ABC7 News, Denver
Family Of Hit-And-Run Victim Angry That Illegal Immigrant Was Never Deported
22JUL05, ABC7 News, Denver
lllegal Immigrant Convicted Of Deadly Hit-And-Run
28SEP05, ABC 7 News, Denver
Illegal Immigrant Gets Maximum Sentence In Hit & Run Death
11JUN06, Rocky Mountain News
He was 'a serious threat' — but no one stopped him, by Laura Frank
1DEC06, ABC7 News
7NEWS Investigates Mortgage Loans Issued To Illegal Immigrants