A man convicted of giving false information to authorities and forging a public document might face deportation to his native Mongolia.
Judge Clifford L. Athey Jr. sentenced Baterdene Batjargal in Warren County Circuit Court on Monday to 10 years in prison with all but eight months suspended for felony forging a public document and four months in jail for misdemeanor identify theft.
Batjargal’s attorney Bradley Pollack said outside the courtroom after the hearing that the judge essentially sentenced his client to time served given that the defendant spent the past nine months in Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail since his arrest in May.
The defendant’s father, Suqhpaaqar Batjargal, a truck driver in Virginia, testified on his son’s behalf through the help of a Mongolian interpreter. Other family members also appeared in the audience.
The father testified he fled Mongolia about nine years ago for “political” reasons and left his son, then 9 years old, behind. Later, the elder Batjargal testified he left because he witnessed a crime in Mongolia. Now he fears his son faces danger if sent back to Mongolia. Suqhpaaqar Batjargal became emotional when asked how often he could return to Mongolia to see his son and never specifically answered the question.
Since arriving in the United States, his son began attending college in Seattle and then he moved to the Northern Virginia area to live with other family members, the interpreter said.
The elder Batjargal acknowledged his son’s other charge of domestic assault in Northern Virginia. Speaking through the interpreter, Suqhpaaqar Batjargal testified he told his son to follow the rules of the country.
Pollack asked him what would happen to his son if he was sent back to Mongolia.
“My son is not a bad person,” the interpreter said.
Suqhpaaqar Batjargal then said, in his own words, that he felt responsible for his son’s actions.
Pollack pushed his client’s father to explain what danger his son could face in Mongolia and why. Suqhpaaqar Batjargal said only that he could be called to testify as a witness in a crime, and this could put his son in danger. He added that his entire family could face danger if they return to Mongolia.
“I always kept my son in secret, keeping him isolated,” the interpreter said for the father.
Suqhpaaqar Batjargal said his son would, if allowed back in the United States, work as a truck driver for his company.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton asked Suqhpaaqar Batjargal if he had advised his son to lie to law enforcement.
“I just advised him do not get involved in anything else at that phase, but I didn’t directly tell him to identify himself with the wrong name,” Suqhpaaqar Batjargal said through the interpreter. “I just told him be careful because your paperwork’s coming in two months, so you have to wait until your paperwork comes.”
The defendant then testified on his own behalf, through the interpreter, at times through tears.
Pollack asked Baterdene Batjargal how he felt about providing false information to law enforcement. The defendant testified through the interpreter that he felt scared and nervous at the time law enforcement agents interviewed him, so he provided a different name.
A jury acquitted Baterdene Batjargal of a rape charge in November and found him guilty of the misdemeanor count of identity theft, and recommended he serve four months in jail on the latter offense. He pleaded guilty to the felony charge prior to the jury trial, leaving it up to the court to impose punishment.
The sentencing guidelines recommended Baterdene Batjargal serve seven months to one year and four months in jail. Pollack asked Athey to sentence his client to the low end of the guidelines while Layton requested a punishment at the high end. However, Athey called this case one that falls in the middle of the sentencing range and imposed such a punishment. Baterdene Batjargal also faces up to 12 months in jail for a pending domestic assault charge.
Athey noted that Baterdene Batjargal’s potential deportation remains in the hands of U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In arguing for punishment, Layton noted Baterdene Batjargal knowingly provided false information to law enforcement officers before his arrest while questioned about an alleged sexual assault reported in Warren County. Layton also argued that the defendant’s actions alone led him to his current situation and that Baterdine Batjargal should obey the rules in the country.
Pollack said that his client’s behavior during the initial interview with law enforcement was not atypical of people acting while under suspicion of a crime.