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Document and Benefit Fraud
07/30/2010

4 sentenced for illegally selling Georgia driver's licenses

Driver's license examiners and their co-conspirators sold licenses to unqualified applicants

MACON, Ga. - Two driver's license examiners with the Georgia Department of Driver Services - Kenneth Boyt, 36, and Denise Searcy Trower, 41, both of Kathleen, Ga. - were sentenced to prison Thursday for illegally issuing driver's licenses to individuals they knew were not qualified to receive such licenses, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS).

Javeed Bukhari, 49, of Lawrenceville, Ga., and Ghanshy Am Patel, 41, of Perry, Ga., were also sentenced for their role in the illegal driver's license scheme.

"The facilitation of legitimate documents for criminal purpose, to make a profit, and avoid the use of true identities puts our nation's security at risk," said Acting Special Agent in Charge of the ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta Brock Nicholson. "Individuals who think that they can commit such acts without repercussions should think twice. ICE HSI along with its federal, state and local law enforcement partners will continue to vigorously pursue these corrupt individuals to ensure integrity in our governmental systems and will remain vigilant in our national security efforts."

Boyt was sentenced to two years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and Trower was sentenced to two and a half years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Bukhari was sentenced to nine months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and fined $10,000. Patel was sentenced to five years probation with the special condition that he serve 30 consecutive days in jail, and fined $40,000.

All had previously pled guilty.

As examiners for the Georgia DDS, Boyt and Trower's job was to review applications for driver's licenses and, for those applicants who satisfied all the necessary requirements, to issue driver's licenses. According to court records, they violated federal law and DDS rules by issuing driver's licenses to people whom they knew were not qualified to have one - all in exchange for money. Both issued licenses to immigrants who were not legally admitted to the United States, and therefore not eligible to receive a Georgia driver's license.

"These driver's license examiners violated the public's trust and risked endangering our community by selling licenses to the highest bidder," said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "Official ID's such as driver's licenses are required to board flights and enter secure buildings. This puts Department of Driver Services employees on the front lines of homeland security as they work to limit such official identification documents to only those who qualify. The rogue examiners and their accomplices in this case did not take this security responsibility seriously."

Bukhari and Patel facilitated the crimes by introducing members of the community who wanted a driver's license, but could not obtain one legally, to either Boyt or Trower. These applicants would pay money to Bukhari or Patel for an illegal license, and these middlemen would in turn pay Boyt or Trower, who would then provide the applicant with a valid Georgia driver's license. Some applicants admitted to paying as much as $6,000 for these illegal licenses.

DDS Commissioner Gregory C. Dozier praised the initial work of DDS investigators and the cooperative effort of Special Agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force for the investigation's success, saying "DDS will continue to protect the integrity and security of one of our state's most important processes. DDS remains committed to seeking full prosecution for any illegalities."

This case was investigated by agents with the ICE HSI Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force and investigators of the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Bly prosecuted the case.