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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges 22 Members And Customers Of Identity Fraud Ring


Press Statement
U.S. Department of Justice
New York, NY
February 23, 2010

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Preet Bharara, United States Attorney
Southern District of New York

"Operation Two Face" Takes Down Identity Fraud Ring That Netted More Than $1 Million And Included Two Allegedly Corrupt DMV Employees

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, JOHN T. MORTON, the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police Commissioner for the City of New York ("NYPD"), JOSEPH FISCH, the Inspector General for the New York State Office of Inspector General ("NYS-OIG"), DAVID J. SWARTS, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles ("NYS-DMV"), EDWARD J. RYAN, the Special Agent-in-Charge for the New York Office of the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General ("SSA-OIG"), BRIAN G. PARR, the Special Agent-in-Charge for the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service ("USSS"), and JEFFREY W. CULVER, the Director of the United States Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service ("DDS"), announced today the unsealing of charges against seven members of an identity fraud ring, including two New York City-based employees of NYS-DMV, who allegedly sold more than 200 New York state driver's licenses and other identification documents in stolen identities, netting more than $1 million. In addition to the seven alleged members of the identity fraud ring, 15 alleged customers who obtained DMV documents in stolen identities from the ring were charged in separate complaints.

This morning, law enforcement officers arrested six alleged members of the charged identity fraud ring. One alleged member is still being sought. Law enforcement officials also arrested two alleged customers of the ring. Eleven additional alleged customers of the ring were previously arrested. Two alleged customers are still being sought.

As alleged in the Complaints unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

This case targeted a New York-based identity fraud ring that obtained New York State driver's licenses, learner's permits, and identification cards (collectively, "DMV Documents") using stolen identities that belonged to real people and agreed to sell, among others, convicted felons, a sex offender, an individual featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted," and an undercover officer who claimed to be on the U.S. Government no-fly list. The participants in this criminal scheme included, among others, two allegedly corrupt NYS-DMV employees: ROBIN JONES-WOODSON and GLENDA HINTON.

WILCH DEWALT, a/k/a "Sharrieff Sabazz Muhammad," a/k/a "G," a/k/a "Mark Fowler," a/k/a "License Man," was the identity fraud ring's alleged leader. DEWALT acted as a broker who, in exchange for a fee of between $7,000 and $10,000, served as a one-stop shop for fraudulent identification documents, enabling more than 200 people to obtain DMV Documents in stolen identities. Each customer had only to provide DEWALT with his or her fee and a photograph. DEWALT then supplied his customers with a complete "package" of identification documents, including some genuine and some fraudulent, that they then used to obtain a DMV Document in a stolen identity. The "package" of documents usually included a birth certificate, Social Security card, employee identification card, pay stub, W-2, and bank card. DEWALT also provided a bogus certification purporting to show that his customers had completed a driving school course, and even offered a completed written learner's permit examination so that the customer did not actually have to take the test.

The customers who allegedly received DMV Documents from DEWALT's identity fraud ring included the following:

  • An individual who was featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted" for his alleged involvement in a large-scale drug-trafficking and money-laundering organization;
  • A convicted sex offender who obtained a fraudulent license, was imprisoned in Georgia for failing to register as a sex offender, and then attempted to obtain a second fraudulent license within weeks of his release from prison;
  • An individual who was on supervised release after 70 months in federal prison for narcotics crimes and had previously been convicted of both drug and firearm offenses;
  • A convicted felon whose real driver's license had been suspended because of two DUI convictions; and
  • Another convicted felon who attempted to obtain an identification document in another person's identity while serving a federal prison sentence.

Additionally, during the investigation, an undercover officer posing as a man on the U.S. Government's "no-fly" list was introduced to DEWALT. The undercover told DEWALT that he was on the no-fly list and asked DEWALT for help in obtaining an enhanced driver's license in a fraudulent identity that would enable him to travel from the United States to Canada so that he could then board an airplane to fly to Pakistan. The undercover also asked DEWALT to assist him in obtaining a U.S. passport in a fraudulent identity.

DEWALT agreed, in exchange for a fee, to obtain an enhanced driver's license in a fraudulent identity for the undercover. In response to the undercover's request for a passport, DEWALT said, "[O]ne step at a time." In a subsequent telephone conversation with DEWALT, the undercover reminded DEWALT that he was on the no-fly list, and said, "They think I'm some kind of terrorist or something, I don't know." DEWALT responded, "[W]e know about all that."

JOSE R. TORRES-MUNOZ, a/k/a "Paul," a/k/a "Roberto," a/k/a "Alberto," was one of the people from whom DEWALT purchased stolen personal identification information. DAVID RAY CRAVEN, a/k/a "Max," a/k/a "Julius Simons," and DOUGLAS L. ROPER, a/k/a "Nicky Roper," a/k/a "Nicky Martinez," a/k/a "Nick," a/k/a "Nate," acted as brokers who directed customers seeking fraudulent DMV identification documents to DEWALT. OLGA NIEVES MATOS, a/k/a "Sarah," provided instructions to DEWALT's Spanishspeaking customers about how to obtain their fraudulent DMV Documents.

After DEWALT obtained a stolen identity for a customer, he typically contacted HINTON, a NYS-DMV employee in the Harlem office, to determine whether the DMV had already issued any identification documents in the stolen identity. HINTON queried the victim's identification information in a non-public NYS-DMV database, and then notified DEWALT of the results.

DEWALT then typically contacted JONES-WOODSON, a NYSDMV employee in the Yonkers office, and arranged a time to bring the customer to the Yonkers DMV office to submit the customer's application. Although JONES-WOODSON did not routinely process DMV applications as part of her job responsibilities, she processed many of the fraudulent DMV applications DEWALT's customers submitted to ensure that there were no problems. She also typically completed the written learner's permit examination for DEWALT's customers.

At the Yonkers DMV office, DEWALT and the customer typically met first with JONES-WOODSON to review the customer's fraudulent paperwork. JONES-WOODSON then helped process the application. DEWALT paid both HINTON and JONES-WOODSON for the assistance they provided to the identity fraud ring.

The charges against each of the seven defendants charged as members of the identity fraud ring and the corresponding maximum potential penalties are contained in a chart attached to this press release.

* * *

PREET BHARARA, the U.S. Attorney stated: "The integrity of any security system, no matter how elaborate or expensive, is only as good as the integrity of the people who carry it out. Human integrity is every bit as important as cutting edge technology. And in these times, more than ever before, we cannot afford to have any weak links in our security chain. By taking down Wilch Dewalt's alleged identity fraud ring, we provide a clear reminder to every employee of every government agency: you cannot sell your integrity. We will continue to work with our partners at the federal, state, and local levels to combat identity fraud and any corrupt public actor who enables it."

JOHN T. MORTON, the Assistant Secretary of ICE stated: "The actions taken by these individuals are serious crimes motivated by greed that betray the public's trust. Identity fraud affects all of us and has far-reaching implications. Today's arrests demonstrate ICE's resolve to work with our law enforcement partners to stop these criminals in their tracks."

RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York stated: "Identity fraud puts the public seriously at risk where it can easily be used to help everyone from con artists to terrorists. As recent events attest, New York remains on the top of the terrorist target list. And the involvement of an undercover agent in this case who was going to buy an enhanced driver's license from this ring after he said he need to avoid a 'no fly' list was particularly disturbing. I want to commend the detectives, agents, and prosecutors who crushed this dangerous activity before the public could be jeopardized further."

JOSEPH FISCH, the New York State Inspector General stated: "State employees who commit crimes not only violate the law, but betray the trust and responsibility imposed upon them as public servants and dishonor the reputations of their honest, hard-working colleagues. With these arrests, we serve notice that state employees who engage in such acts will be identified, apprehended, and prosecuted to the fullest extent permissible by law. As was done here, we will continue working with law enforcement authorities, at all levels of government, in the identification and pursuit of such wrong doers. In connection, we commend DMV Commissioner David J. Swarts who promptly brought to our attention the allegations concerning these DMV employees, and who cooperated fully and provided significant assistance in the investigation which followed.

DAVID J. SWARTS, the Commissioner of NYS-DMV stated: "Because we understand the importance of our identity documents, we aggressively pursue employee corruption cases. We have been participating in this investigation since we uncovered and reported this misconduct, and are tremendously grateful for the joint efforts of our law enforcement partners in bringing these defendants to justice. We also continually strive to improve our license issuance process. On February 3, 2010, we implemented a statewide program that compares the digital photos of license applicants to all other DMV customer photos. The software helps to identify any attempt to obtain a second or third license, or assume the identity of someone already in our system. This program has actually been identifying the recent license transactions in this matter, and we are confident that our already strong licensing process has been significantly improved."

EDWARD J. RYAN, the Special Agent-in-Charge for the New York Office of the SSA-OIG stated: "We are committed to protecting the integrity of the Social Security number, ensuring that the number is only used for legitimate Social Security purposes and not related to criminal or terrorist enterprises for their financial gain or to cover their true identity. This cooperative investigation illustrates our Office's dedication to the aggressive pursuit of any individuals who engage in the trafficking and misuse of personal information including Social Security numbers. We are pleased with the multi-law enforcement effort that resulted in today's arrests and we will continue our strides with other law enforcement."

BRIAN G. PARR, Special Agent-in-Charge for the New York Field Office of the USSS stated: "The United States Secret Service works with our many partners through the New York and New Jersey Electronic Crimes Task Force to continue to combat crimes such as these. Identity theft is a crime that puts us all at risk. A government issued driver's license is the principle form of identity which must be trusted, as it is used as identification for many financial transactions. Today's multiagency operations will help to ensure confidence in the area of personal identity and documentation and safeguard financial payment systems of the United States."

JEFFREY W. CULVER, the Director of the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service stated: "Today's indictment against these defendants sends a strong message: Diplomatic Security is committed to making sure that those who commit passport fraud face consequences for their criminal actions. Diplomatic Security's strong relationship with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the New York City Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies around the world continues to be essential in the pursuit of justice."

Mr. BHARARA thanked all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation, as well as the NYS-DMV for their outstanding work.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office's Public Corruption and General Crimes Units. Assistant United States Attorneys RICHARD TARLOWE and BRENT WIBLE of the Public Corruption Unit, as well as SARAH PAUL, SARAH McCALLUM, BRIAN BLAIS, ALVIN BRAGG, MICHAEL FERRERA, JONATHAN COHEN, DAVID MILLER, and NIKETH VELAMOOR of the General Crimes Unit, are in charge of the prosecution.

If you believe you were a victim of this crime, including a victim entitled to restitution, and you wish to provide information to law enforcement and/or receive notice of future developments in the case or additional information, please contact Wendy Olsen-Clancy, the Victim Witness Coordinator at the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, at (866) 874-8900 or Wendy.Olsen@usdoj.gov. For additional information, go to: www.usdoj.gov/usao/nys/victimwitness.html on the Internet.

Additionally, if you believe you are a victim of this crime, the United States Attorney's Office recommends that you take steps to protect yourself from financial loss if you have not done so already. The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") in Washington has the lead role in protecting consumers from identity theft crimes and other frauds. The FTC's website, www.ftc.gov/idtheft, is dedicated to providing information on identity theft. The FTC's online complaint form will allow you to enter the details of your identity theft. By providing that information, you can help in our pursuit of this case. We also strongly recommend that you contact the credit bureaus to request a fraud alert on your credit files. An alert will notify would be creditors that your information has been breached and require them to take additional steps to verify any request for credit. You can reach the credit bureaus as follows:

Equifax www.equifax.com (866) 766-0008

TransUnion www.transunion.com (800) 680-7289

Experian www.experian.com (888) 397-3742

Please note that the FTC and credit bureau websites also provide additional information that may be pertinent to your situation.

The charges contained in the Complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


United States v. Wilch Dewalt, et al.

Charges And Potential Penalties

CountChargeDefendantsMaximum Penalties
1Conspiracy to
Commit
Identity
Fraud
WILCH DEWALT,
ROBIN JONES-WOODSON,
GLENDA HINTON,
JOSE R. TORRES-MUNOZ,
OLGA NIEVES MATOS,
DAVID RAY CRAVEN,
DOUGLAS L. ROPER
15 years in prison;
fine of $250,000 or
twice the gross gain
or loss; and
restitution
2Aggravated
Identity
Theft
WILCH DEWALT,
JOSE R. TORRES-MUNOZ,
ROBIN JONES-WOODSON
Mandatory 2 years in
prison; fine of
$250,000 or twice
the gross gain or
loss; and
restitution
3Conspiracy to
Misuse a
Social
Security
Number
WILCH DEWALT,
ROBIN JONES-WOODSON,
GLENDA HINTON,
JOSE R. TORRES-MUNOZ,
OLGA NIEVES MATOS,
DAVID RAY CRAVEN,
DOUGLAS L. ROPER
5 years in prison;
fine of $250,000 or
twice the gross gain
or loss; and
restitution
4Bribery of a
Public
Official
WILCH DEWALT10 years in prison;
fine of $250,000 or
twice the gross gain
or loss; and
restitution
5Accepting a
Bribe as a
Public
Official
ROBIN JONES-WOODSON,
GLENDA HINTON
10 years in prison;
fine of $250,000 or
twice the gross gain
or loss; and
restitution

DefendantResidenceAge
WILCH DEWALTNew York, New York 52
ROBIN JONES-WOODSON New York, New York 42
GLENDA HINTON New York, New York 54
JOSE R. TORRES-MUNOZ New York, New York 52
OLGA NIEVES MATOS New York, New York 41
DAVID RAY CRAVEN Rosedale, New York 44
DOUGLAS L. ROPER Bronx, New York 48


Contact:
Yusill Scribner
Rebekah Carmichael
Janice Oh
U.S. Attorney's Public Information Office
212-637-2600

Sarah Rosetti
Diplomatic Security Public Affairs
571-345-2507




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