An ongoing Federal investigation into the issuance of Massachusetts driver’s licenses to individuals who presented fraudulently obtained, but valid, Puerto Rican identification documents to a bribed Registry employee resulted in a guilty plea by one of the participants.
On October 28, a Chelsea man, Leonel Sanchez, 52, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce false identification documents and aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock scheduled sentencing for Jan. 20, 2015 at 2:00 pm.
Between December 2013, and January 2014, Mr. Sanchez and his Registry co-conspirator issued no less than thirty-three fraudulent driver’s licenses to Mr. Sanchez’s “clients”
In an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint against Mr. Sanchez, Anthony Cicerone, a Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations, stated he had conducted interviews with the former Registry employee who conspired with Mr. Sanchez and others to issue fraudulent driver licenses. The corrupt clerk, “made a full confession, admitting his role in issuing Massachusetts driver’s licenses and identification cards to individuals who were not eligible to receive them.”
In his confession, the clerk, according to Special Agent Cicerone, stated that “[t]he scheme involved “brokers” bringing “clients” to the CW [cooperating witness] to obtain for the clients licenses and identification cards in identities other than their own. The CW was paid by the brokers in cash for each identification card or license he produced.”
Mr. Sanchez, acting as a so-called “broker,” provided fraudulently obtained but legitimate Puerto Rican identity documents to his “clients.” The clients then presented the identity documents to the corrupt clerk at the Revere Registry who would issue a legitimate Massachusetts driver’s license or identification card to the imposter.
If Mr. Sanchez’s client needed to take a test for a permit, Mr. Sanchez “would often bring another individual to take the permit tests for his clients.” When the test was completed that individual would leave and the original client would go to the corrupt clerk’s window to receive a permit and take the road test.
After the clerk had confessed, to Special Agent Cicerone and became a cooperating witness, he assisted the government by recording Mr. Sanchez’s transactions with the corrupt clerk involving Mr. Sanchez’s clients.
However, before the conspiracy between Mr. Sanchez and the clerk ended, no less than than thirty-three Massachusetts driver’s licenses had been issued to to individuals who presented fraudulently obtained, but valid, Puerto Rican identification documents.
For each of these transactions Mr. Sanchez paid the clerk between $100 and $300 in cash for each license issued to his clients. The amount depended apparently upon the completeness of the documentation used in obtaining each license.
For his part in the conspiracy, Mr. Sanchez faces two years plus in jail
A nine-page Notice of Plea Agreement filed with the court on October 23, 2014, by Assistant United States Attorney Eugenia M Carris setting forth the agreement between the United States Attorney and Mister Sanchez to plead guilty to the indictment charging Conspiracy to Produce False Identification Documents, 18 U.S.C. §371 (Count 1) and Aggravated Identity Theft, 18 U.S.C. §1028A (Count 2).
In the plea agreement, the United States Attorney advised the Court that the United States’ sentencing recommendation would be that Mister Sanchez serve 26 months in Federal prison with incarceration on Count 1 for a period of 60 days, but that that Mister Sanchez serve a a consecutive statutorily mandated additional sentence of two years in prison on Count 2. Additionally, the recommendation is for a fine to be determined by the court and two additional years of supervised release after Mister Sanchez finishes his prison sentence.
Second case involving bribery of a Registry of Motor Vehicle employee and Puerto Rican identification documents
The Sanchez guilty plea is the second guilty plea obtained by the United States attorney involving bribery of a Registry of Motor Vehicles employee to obtain driver license using Puerto Rican identification documents.
In March 2013, Leonardo Burgos Espinal, 42, an illegal alien, also had been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for bribing an employee of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The modus operandi of Mr. Espinal’s and Mr. Sanchez’s crimes were the same.
Mr. Espinal, like Mr. Sanchez, would direct his “clients” to present fraudulently obtained, but valid, Puerto Rican identification documents to his co-conspirator at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, who would then issue a valid Massachusetts driver’s license or ID knowing that the Puerto Rican documents belonged to other real people.
On November 22, 2013, United States District Judge Timothy S. Hillman sentenced Mr. Espinal to the fourteen months of jail time that Mr. Espinal had already served awaiting trial. Mr. Espinal, however, was not released from custody as the Court remanded him into the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.
Based upon the statements of the US attorney in both these cases “of an ongoing investigation involving identity theft and public corruption relating to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles”, additional indictments may be expected, especially since it does not appear that either of the corrupt employees of the Registry of Motor Vehicles have been sentenced.