In ARIZONA Prop 100 ( i think it is) should be passed and the govenor should be run out of office. I can only hope the DA in this case will not accept or entertain plea bargans.
False licenses, other cards sold, indictments say
By Eric Swedlund and Barrett Marson
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
A three-year undercover investigation into widespread corruption at Arizona Motor Vehicle Division offices resulted in the indictments of 34 people suspected of making and selling fraudulent driver's licenses, authorities said.
In one of the largest public corruption cases in state history, MVD employees have for years been accepting bribes of up to $3,500 for unlawfully providing state identification cards and driver's licenses, according to indictments released Thursday.
Among those indicted are 26 current and former employees of 10 MVD offices in Southern Arizona and the Phoenix area and eight others suspected of brokering the sale of fake state-issued ID cards. The 94 pages of indictments also contain several charges of conspiracy. All but two Phoenix-area suspects were arrested Thursday.
"These fraudulent documents would permit individuals to travel from Arizona to Washington nonstop. They could be used to open a fraudulent bank account. They could be used to buy a weapon," said Jennifer Guerin, chief assistant U.S. attorney in Tucson. "They would permit an individual who otherwise would not be permitted to cross the border to cross through a Border Patrol checkpoint."
While authorities aren't certain how many state-issued ID cards and driver's licenses were fraudulently produced, the Operation Double Driver undercover investigation, which began in Tucson, involved $70,000 in bribes and turned up more than 100 fraudulent licenses and other documents. And officials expect to find more, said Roland Mignone assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Tucson office.
MVD employees accepted bribes for issuing fraudulent driver's licenses, identification cards, commercial driver's licenses, hazardous-material certification and even a Social Security card in one Phoenix case, Mignone said. The fraud was the work of several pockets of illegal activity rather than a single organization.
Of those arrested, 11 are current or former MVD employees in Tucson, two are former employees in Sierra Vista, two are current MVD employees in Douglas and one worked in Nogales.
The investigation started in December 2001 when an undercover Tucson police officer working for a counter-narcotics task force received a tip that MVD employees were selling the IDs, said Kathleen Robinson, assistant chief of the Tucson Police Department.
Undercover narcotics officers continued to investigate and verified the fraudulent documents were being sold when they purchased some, Robinson said, at which point the investigation was turned over to the FBI and expanded to the Phoenix area.
Although investigators have uncovered no link to terrorist activities, authorities said it is cause for worry about the nation's security.
Guerin said those IDs were the "real McCoy" and would be nearly impossible for anyone to tell they had been fraudulently issued.
The maximum penalty for each count of unlawfully producing identification documents is 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine
"To my knowledge, this is probably the largest public corruption case in the history of our state," said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. "They have sold national security in a traitorous and despicable fashion."
The indictments were announced at press conferences in Tucson and Phoenix. In Phoenix, U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton said authorities will never know how many fraudulent licenses were issued.
Nathan Gray, FBI assistant special agent in charge, said law-enforcement officials will attempt to get as many names as possible from the suspects.
"It is going to be near impossible to know exactly all the people," Gray said.
Charlton warned MVD employees involved with the scandal or who have knowledge of it to contact law enforcement.
Authorities said the workers who sold the fake documents were allowed to continue with their jobs after undercover agents purchased the IDs.
Law-enforcement officials did not want to blow the investigation by arresting one or two suspects at a time. Thomas Clinkenbeard, chief investigator for the MVD's Office of Special Investigation, said the agency is going to try to get some of the licenses back.
"It's a huge concern but there are accommodations that have to be made. You don't want to compromise the investigation," Clinkenbeard said.
The workers are now on paid administrative leave pending further action, Department of Transportation Director Victor Mendez said. Mendez did not know how long that would last.
House Majority Whip Randy Graf, R-Green Valley, said the investigation could lead to more support for Proposition 200, which looks to cut down on fraud in the state's welfare programs and restrict services available to illegal residents. A driver's license is proof of legal residency in the state.
"It will certainly highlight the issue that there is fraud activity going on out there," said Graf. "It highlights the lengths people will go to and why as a state we have got to be more diligent."
Dupnik said that while it is possible illegal entrants may have obtained fraudulent identification, authorities have no reason to suspect there is any fraud in voting.
Saji Vettiyil, an attorney for Tucson defendant Deborah Salcido, said she as well as other MVD employees deny any involvement in the cases.
The investigation echoed a similar case in 2000 in which undercover officers exposed three separate rings selling fake licenses and ID cards out of several Maricopa County MVD offices. A dozen people were arrested, including four state employees, on charges of selling the fake licenses and ID cards for up to $1,500 each.
● The following Southern Arizonans were indicted on various charges relating to the production and sale of fraudulent driver's licenses and other identification documents:
Tucson MVD employees
Blanca Garavito, 41
Glenda Garcia, 22
Luz Yolanda Jaramillo, 33
Rebecca Lock, 44
Leticia Sanchez, 37
Santiago Jimmy Valenzuela, 47
Former Tucson MVD employees
Sandra Contreras, 28
Susana Galaviz-Nogales, 26
Rebecca Martinez, 39
Angelica Pinales, 30
Deborah Salcido, 32
Former Sierra Vista MVD employees
Monique Elzy, 26
Kristie Espinoza, 28
Douglas MVD employees
Rafael Escarcega, 48
Joe Saavedra, 47
Former Nogales MVD employee
Marissa Zamora, 25
Molly Amaro, 32
Christopher Sanchez, 41
● Reporter Joseph Barrios contributed to this story. ● Contact reporter Eric Swedlund at 629-9412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We had the samething happen over here in Kali-fornia. A bunch of people from Cal-DMV got fired and arrested(lead away in cuffs) for fraudently granting driver's licenses a few years back.
And here in Nevada a few months back.
Judging by the last names of these crooks, it looks like an Aztlan conspiracy.
Prop 200 FWIW
Arizonans Be Sure To Vote Yes!!
This is a common problem and probubly happens in every state. In Cali we had/have a big problem with girlfriends of HA's and prison gang members providing DMV info and counterfiet documents to the gangs.
i wonder why almost all of the indicted have hispanic last names?
chances are they're all Dems too.