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Woman Ordered Deported for Thievery

December 15, 1999

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ A woman jailed for shoplifting $25 worth of cigarettes, eye drops and deodorant was ordered Tuesday to be deported to Italy, a country she left behind at age 5 when her family came to the United States.

Maria Wigent, 37, who is married to an American and has two teen-age sons, drew a two-year sentence last year for three misdemeanor convictions after she had committed multiple attempted larcenies at neighborhood stores.

Under a 1996 change in U.S. immigration law, any non-citizen who gets more than a year behind bars can be classified as an ``aggravated felon″ and be subject to deportation.

``What kind of Christmas is this?″ a tearful Anna Gaglianese, 58, said in broken English after an immigration judge in Buffalo ordered her daughter returned to their native land.

Unlike her parents, Wigent never bothered to obtain citizenship. She apparently believed she didn’t need to once she married an American.

Wigent appealed the ruling, effectively setting aside the prospect of deportation for several months. She was jailed under orders from immigration authorities.

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