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Document and Benefit Fraud
05/06/2010

20 arrested in a Philadelphia corruption and document fraud case

3 Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation employees sold licenses to criminals and illegal aliens

PHILADELPHIA — Charges were filed against the final three individuals in a scheme to make cash payments to state driver's license examiners in exchange for the issuance of authentic Pennsylvania driver's licenses on May 6 as a result of an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Saman H. Salem, Harold Palmer, and Pierre E. Jean-Louis are charged in federal court with extortion and manufacturing identity documents without lawful authority. Salem is also charged with tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and illegally structuring cash transactions to avoid notice to federal regulators. Palmer is also charged with making false statements to federal agents.

According to the court documents, Salem and Jean-Louis made cash payments to driver's license examiners and posed as interpreters who assisted applicants in cheating on driver’s license examinations. Palmer, a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation ("PennDOT") driver's license examiner, took cash payments to issue driver's licenses. The charges are part of a two-year investigation into several illegal businesses that assisted illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and others in obtaining driver's licenses, through fraudulent means, at various PennDOT driver's license centers in Philadelphia.

"These defendants are charged with systematically corrupting the process of obtaining driving licenses and putting hundreds of identification documents into the hands of people not eligible to receive them," said U. S. Attorney Michael L. Levy. "Fraudulently obtained identification documents do more than put unfit drivers on the road and endanger other drivers and pedestrians, they enable other crimes and prevent law enforcement's detection of those crimes."

"Public corruption by state employees selling authentic drivers' licenses to criminals significantly impacts the community's safety and security," said John P. Kelleghan, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Philadelphia. "This case demonstrates both the seriousness of the threat and the effectiveness of ICE's Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force."

To date, the investigation has resulted in:

  • The charging of a total of 20 individuals in various schemes to obtain driver's licenses and other identification documents for ineligible individuals, including illegal aliens, foreign nationals, and others.
  • The charging of 10 individuals for operating a 17-year conspiracy to obtain driver's licenses and other fraudulent identification documents for illegal aliens and foreign nationals. This organization, headed by defendant Kakhyun H. Lee and headquartered in northern New Jersey, obtained hundreds of false identities. Lee, a trained artist and Korean national, obtained Korean passports, forged U. S. visas into these passports, and transported hundreds of individuals to Tennessee, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to obtain fraudulent identification documents. These documents included driver's licenses and identification cards that included the picture of Lee's customer and the identifying information of another person Lee supplied. Lee charged his customers up to $4,000 for fraudulent identity documents. Lee has pleaded guilty and is scheduled for sentencing on June 1, 2010.
  • The charging of driving school operators Michel Lominy, Salem, and Alphonso Wilson who made cash payments to driver's license examiners to issue licenses to individuals who took perfunctory driving tests, or no test at all, and who assisted applicants in cheating on driving tests.
  • The charging of Alexander Steele, Palmer and Anita Levier, all PennDOT driver's license examiners who allegedly took thousands of dollars in cash payments to issue driver's licenses to individuals without regard for their eligibility to receive licenses.
  • The seizure of more than $300,000 in cash from Salem, which was part of the proceeds of the scheme and the uncovering of a more than five-year tax fraud scheme engineered by Salem.
  • At least seven people caught with one of these fraudulent licenses were caught transporting narcotics or large sums of cash.

If convicted, Salem faces a maximum sentence of 53 years in prison. Palmer faces a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment and Jean-Louis faces a maximum sentence of 35 years imprisonment. 

Information Regarding the Defendants
NAMEADDRESSYEAR OF BIRTH
Saman H. SalemPhiladelphia, PA1977
Kakhyun H. LeeRidgefield, NJ1963
Alexander SteelePhiladelphia, PA1963
Harold PalmerPhiladelphia, PA1966
Anita LevierPhiladelphia, PA1956
Michel LominyIrvington, NJ1969
Pierre E. Jean-LouisCollingdale, PA1958
Mal S. LeeNorth Wales, PA1955
Alphonso WilsonPhiladelphia, PA1962
Justin KimPalisades Park, NJ1973
Ryan KooCloster, New Jersey1970
Min S. KimFederal custody1953
Marcelino Rodroguez-GarciaNew York, NY1965
Carlos Tejeda-MejiaIn custody/Citizen of Dominican Republic1979
Raul Villaneuva FigueoraCitizen of Dominican Republic1965
Victor RodriguezCitizen of Dominican Republic1968
Yerris R. Ramirez NunezCitizen of Dominican Republic1977
Jovany RamirezQueens, NY1980
Christopher J. HahnEdgewater, NJ1962
Hyung J. ChangRidgefield, NJ1975

 

Information Regarding the Defendants
NAMESTATUS/MAXIMUM PENALTY
Saman H. SalemCharged/53 years in prison
Kakhyun H. LeeAwaiting sentencing/163 years in prison
Alexander SteeleAwaiting trial/85 years in prison
Harold PalmerCharged/40 years in prison
Anita LevierSentenced/three years probation
Michel LominyAwaiting sentencing/193 years in prison
Pierre E. Jean-LouisCharged/35 years in prison
Mal S. LeeAwaiting trial/34 years in prison
Alphonso WilsonAwaiting sentencing/85 years in prison
Justin KimAwaiting trial/85 years in prison
Ryan KooAwaiting trial/119 years in prison
Min S. KimSentenced/13 months in prison
Marcelino Rodriguez-GarciaSentenced/25 months in prison
Carlos Tejeda-MejiaSentenced/27 months in prison
Raul Villanueva FigueroaSentenced
Victor RodriguezSentenced/12 months in prison
Yerris Radhames Ramirez NunezSentenced/41 months in prison
Jovany RamirezAwaiting sentencing/15 years in prison
Christopher J. HahnAwaiting trial/17 years in prison
Hyung J. ChangAwaiting sentencing/10 years in prison

The case was investigated by ICE through its Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the U. S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General, the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys Richard J. Zack and David J. Ignall.

To learn more about the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force go to www.ice.gov. Report information on Document and Benefit Fraud at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.