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Document and Benefit Fraud
02/23/2010

22 arrests in NYC document and identity fraud ring

NEW YORK - Operation Two-Face led to the arrest of 22 members and customers of a document and identity fraud ring. This operation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Document and Benefits Fraud Task Force. The arrests were announced by the Department of Homeland Security's Assistant Secretary for ICE John T. Morton and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Southern District of New York

Wilch D. Dewalt, 52, of New York, also known as "License Man," was the identity fraud ring's alleged leader. DeWalt and six other alleged members of the organization, which include two New York State Department of Motor Vehicle employees, allegedly sold more than 200 New York state driver's licenses and other identification documents reflecting 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 with stolen identities from the criminal organization were charged in separate complaints.

On Tuesday, ICE special agents, with the assistance of the New York City Police Department, New York State Office of Inspector General, New York State Department of Motor Vehicle (NYS-DMV), Office of Social Security Administration, the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service arrested the six alleged members of the ring. One alleged member is 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 the documents to, 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, 42, of and Glenda Hinton, 54, both of New York City.

Wilch 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
  • 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 officer 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 officer 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 officer. In response to the officer's request for a passport, DeWalt said, "[O]ne step at a time." In a subsequent telephone conversation with DeWalt, the officer 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. Torrez-Munoz was one of the people from whom DeWalt purchased stolen personal identification information.

David Ray Raven and Douglas L. Roper acted as brokers who directed customers seeking fraudulent DMV identification documents to DeWalt.

Olga Nieves Matos provided instructions to DeWalt's Spanish speaking 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 NYS-DMV 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 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.

John T. Morton, Department of Homeland Security's Assistant Secretary for 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."

Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, 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."

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."

The case is being prosecuted by the Office's Public Corruption and General Crimes Units.