Widespread Fraud? Alleged RMV Scheme Fuels Speculation

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2017/08/03/widespread-fraud-alleged-rmv-scheme-fuels-speculation/

BOSTON — The four Registry of Motor Vehicles clerks charged in connection with an alleged identity theft scheme authorities say supplied illegal aliens with Massachusetts IDs and fraudulent voter registrations have been suspended without pay, but questions still linger regarding the extent of their shenanigans — and whether similar activity is happening at other RMV locations.

Wednesday’s bust, which focused on the RMV’s Haymarket office in Boston, also set off alarm bells for one the nation’s leading immigration reform organizations, and only came to light after an anonymous tipster reached out to the State Police — instead of Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials — in October 2015.

Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the nonprofit Federation for American Immigration Reform, said Thursday that the news immediately made him think of the decision by states like Massachusetts to decline an invitation from the White House to share voter data in an effort to settle rumors regarding the prevalence of voter fraud.

According to the federal Department of Justice, the first step in nabbing the phony state IDs involved surveillance of conspirators bringing counterfeit identification papers to City Hall to “fraudulently register the clients to vote in the city of Boston.”

“Its pretty outrageous,” Mehlman told New Boston Post. “All the criticism of this [White House] panel investigating voter fraud, all those claims that it’s some sort of a witch-hunt — well this kind of undermines that argument.

“This is a good indication that it does happen.”

Debra O’Malley, a spokesman for Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, said Thursday that based upon the information shared by the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office, none of the illegal immigrants who prosecutors say registered to vote through the scheme have actually voted.

A request for comment made Thursday afternoon to the Massachusetts Republican Party went unanswered as of deadline.

But Mehlman said the incident still raises several questions, including whether agencies like the RMV are doing enough to keep citizens’ information secure. He recalled that fraudulently-obtained driver’s licenses were involved in the planning of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.  

“We’re still not taking this issue seriously,” he said. “This affidavit … you have deportations, convictions. … this raises a lot of questions about who gets into the United States.”

According to court documents, a document dealer identified as “Flako” sold another vendor identified as 41-year-old Bivian Yohanny Brea of Boston false ID documents, such as phony Puerto Rican birth certificates and Social Security cards, while Brea turned around and used the fake docs to register illegal aliens, some of whom paid upwards of $2,000 for the IDs, to vote. The fraudulently obtained voter registration docs would then be carried a few blocks from City Hall to the Haymarket RMV, where four clerks allegedly accepted cash in exchange for pumping out fraudulent state IDs.

“The RMV finds the alleged criminal and fraudulent actions of these individuals to be troubling and intolerable and has also taken immediate steps to suspend the credentials allegedly fraudulently obtained as part of this enterprise,” Erin Deveney, the registrar of the RMV, announced Wednesday in a statement made immediately following the arraignments.

The RMV also confirmed that it has initiated the process of suspending the illegally-obtained licenses.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, asked Thursday whether those who paid big bucks to obtain phony driver’s license are also under investigation, could only say that the overall “investigation is still ongoing.”

According to the Boston Herald, all six were arraigned late Wednesday afternoon in federal court on aggravated identity theft charges, which carry minimum two-year sentences. All but “Flako,” an illegal immigrant from the Dominican Republic, were released on bond. According to the Herald, “Flako,” who is also listed under the aliases “Miguel,” “Pablo D. Gonzalez Lopez,” and “Rafael R. Bonano,” was found to have in his possession a fake Green Card at the time of his arrest.

Court documents indicate that “Flako” had previously been deported for dealing 1.5 kilograms of cocaine but reentered the United States thanks to a fraudulent Puerto Rico ID.

“We’ve known for a long time that a lot of Dominicans enter the U.S. illegally through Puerto Rico,” Mehlman noted. “Once you’re there you’re just a plane ride away from the U.S.”

Mehlman theorized that if the scheme is occurring in Boston it “could well be happening elsewhere around the country.”

“I would imagine these people at RMVs aren’t taking home huge paychecks,” he added.

The clerks arraigned Wednesday include Evelyn Medina, 56, a Dominican national with U.S. citizenship living in Boston; Annette Gracia, 37, of Boston; Kimberly “Shakia” Jordan, 33, of Randolph; and David Brimage, 46, of Boston.

In 2013, a Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles worker found herself facing charges after federal investigators uncovered a scheme similar to the one that allegedly occurred in Boston. Like Boston, the Virginia illegal ID ring involved an outside dealer with a connection to a state worker.

The Virginia case, however, apparently involved just one DMV insider.

“The temptation is obviously there when you have government workers that can enter a few things into a computer and make a few hundred dollars on the side each week,” Mehlman said.

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