A Guatemalan woman convicted in southwestern Minnesota of causing a fatal school bus crash in 2008 pleaded guilty Monday to illegally re-entering the country and using a phony Social Security number.
Appearing in federal court alongside an interpreter, Olga Marina Franco del Cid, 36, told U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson she knew it was against the law when she used the false identification number to try to get a job at a restaurant in Woodbury last April.
In a plea agreement, prosecutors and her defense attorney asked Nelson to sentence Franco del Cid to 24 to 30 months in prison for the two federal crimes, plus up to $95,000 in fines, after which time Franco del Cid will be deported again. Nelson will determine the final sentence at a hearing scheduled for June 11.
In 2008, Franco del Cid ran a stop sign and crashed a van into a school bus in Cottonwood, killing four children under age 13. The crash drew national attention to the immigration debate when it became known that Franco del Cid had arrived in the country illegally.
Responders at the scene found Franco del Cid behind the steering wheel, her right foot wedged under a crumpled dashboard near the accelerator. Her attorneys argued that her boyfriend was the one driving the van and fled because he didn't want to be deported to Mexico. They argued that he was thrown out of the van on impact, and Franco del Cid was thrown into the driver's seat.
Franco del Cid was convicted of four counts of criminal vehicular homicide and 17 counts of criminal vehicular operation, giving a false name to police, failing to stop at the entrance to a thruway and driving without a valid license. After serving eight years in prison, she was deported in 2016.
Last November, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested her after receiving a tip that she had returned to Minnesota.