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Document and Benefit Fraud

Ex-DMV employee sentenced to prison for role in scheme to illegally issue California driver's licenses

FRESNO, Calif. – A former senior technician in the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) Fresno office has been sentenced to five years and one month in prison for his role in two schemes to sell official California driver’s licenses to ineligible individuals.

Alfonso Casarez, 51, of Fresno, was sentenced Monday for his involvement in the two conspiracies uncovered in a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), DMV’s Investigations Division and the DMV Office of Internal Affairs.

In August 2011, a federal grand jury returned a pair of indictments charging a total of 15 defendants in connection with the two schemes. Casarez was charged in both. According to the first indictment, in return for payment, Casarez electronically altered DMV records to reflect that applicants for Class C or Class A commercial driver’s licenses had passed required written and behind-the-wheel tests, when in fact they had not. Based on the information Casarez entered into the DMV records, the DMV issued official California driver’s licenses to the applicants.

Casarez’s sister, Rosemary Fierros, passed information and money from the applicants to Casarez for the licenses. Fierros was convicted at trial and sentenced to four years in prison. Other co-conspirators recruited individuals to apply for the fraudulently issued driver’s licenses.

"We depend on the honesty of public employees to apply the laws that are designed to keep our roads and highways safe," U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner stated. "We will prosecute those who misuse their public positions to pursue profits, and who put public safety at risk."

"This sentence should serve as a wake-up call to any public official who thinks nothing of jeopardizing public safety and security in order to feed his or her own greed," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of HSI Fresno. "Counterfeit documents pose serious vulnerabilities that often contribute to other crimes, such as identity theft and financial fraud. Targeting these types of schemes is a priority for HSI, and the agency will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to detect, investigate and dismantle this type of activity."

"It is extremely disappointing when a DMV employee uses their official position to conduct criminal activity," said DMV Chief Deputy Director Jean Shiomoto. "The Department is committed to the security of the DMV database we will continue to work aggressively to go after those individuals who are engaged in criminal activities."

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Grant B. Rabenn are prosecuting the cases.