Two plead not guilty to transporting illegal aliens

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A man and woman from Tennessee entered pleas of not guilty to charges of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens for financial gain at a hearing Tuesday before a federal judge in Texarkana.

Gloria Esperanza Sosme, 25, and Leonel Sosme-Pucheta, 28, appeared for arraignment Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas. Each is named in both counts listed in an indictment handed down July 24.

Count one alleges conspiracy to transport illegal aliens in the U.S. for financial gain and aiding and abetting from on or about Jan. 23 to Feb. 16. Count two alleges the pair moved aliens within the U.S. for private financial gain on Feb. 16.

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After determining that neither defendant could afford to hire their own attorney, Bryant appointed Texarkana attorney Jeff Harrelson to represent Sosme and Texarkana attorney Cory Floyd to represent Sosme-Pucheta. Harrelson and Floyd entered pleas of not guilty to the charges for their clients.

The defendants were first arrested Aug. 16 on the indictment in the Middle District of Tennessee. The following day, they made initial court appearances before a federal judge in Tennessee and were released on conditions, including that they appear in Texarkana. The Tennessee judge ordered Sosme and Sosme-Pucheta to limit their travel to the Middle District of Tennessee and the Western District of Arkansas. Bryant added Bowie County noting that Floyd’s office is in Texarkana, Texas.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wulff summarized the possible punishment Sosme and Sosme-Pucheta face. Both of the pending counts are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both, Wulff said. Bryant scheduled both Sosme and Sosme-Pucheta for trial Oct. 1 in Texarkana.

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