FRESNO, Calif. — Following a three-day trial, a federal jury in Fresno found the sister of a former employee of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) guilty of 31 criminal counts for her role in a far-reaching scheme to sell official California driver's licenses to ineligible individuals.
Rosemary Fierros, 47, of Madera, was convicted Friday of conspiracy and unlawful production and transfer of identification documents. Fierros is the last of 13 defendants convicted in a case stemming from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and DMV's Investigations Division and its Office of Internal Affairs
Evidence presented at trial detailed how Fierros recruited prospective driver's license recipients and used "brokers" to aid with the recruiting. She passed the money she collected, along with the recipients' application information, to her brother, former DMV Senior Motor Vehicle Technician Alfonso Casarez, 50, of Fresno.
"Ms. Fierros and her co-defendants put the public at risk for their own financial gain," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. "Such corruption can have dangerous consequences for members of the public using California's roads and freeways. The jury's verdict today and the guilty pleas by the other defendants, including Mr. Casarez, are the result of many hours that investigators with DMV and Homeland Security Investigations have worked."
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Fierros charged recipients $1,000 or more for "Class A" commercial licenses, and several hundred dollars for "Class C" driver's licenses. Fierros recruited brokers, including Victor Vasquez, 36, of Madera, to bring additional license recipients into the scheme. Fierros instructed Vasquez and another broker to have recipients apply at a DMV office, where the recipients paid their license fees and took photographs, which were ultimately given to Fierros to pass to her brother. Her brother then 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 agency issued official California driver's licenses to the applicants.
"As this verdict makes clear, those who engage in criminal acts that enable unqualified individuals to obtain driver's licenses and legitimate identity documents face serious consequences," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge for HSI Fresno. "The defendants' actions in this case put all motorists at risk. What's more, such schemes pose a significant security threat since they could potentially be exploited by dangerous criminals and others seeking to obscure their identities and mask their true motives."
Casarez pleaded guilty Feb. 19 to charges stemming from his involvement in the conspiracy. In December, Vasquez also pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges.
Fierros's daughter, Cassandra Casarez Fierros, 20, was convicted of making false statements to a federal law enforcement agent during the investigation. The other defendants, Angel Ociris Gutierrez, 28, of Salinas; Dimas Dominguez Martinez, 39, of Madera; Jesus Dominguez Martinez, 41, of Madera; Luis Alberto Moreno Delgado, 33, of Riverdale; Armando Treyes Andrade, 50, of Chowchilla; Armando Solorio Heredia, 33, of Riverdale; Jose Manuel Garcia, 45, of Kerman; and Armando Maravilla, 41, of Madera, pleaded guilty to their involvement in the conspiracy as recruiters of potential recipients who worked with or through co-defendant Victor Vasquez to get fraudulent licenses issued. Alcides Urias, 34, of Calexico, pleaded guilty to concealing a felony for his participation in the scheme.
"It is extremely disappointing when an employee entrusted with personal information has broken faith with the public and tarnishes the reputation of the Department," said DMV Chief Deputy Director Jean Shiomoto. "I am very proud of our highly trained Investigations Division that takes immediate action when criminal activity is suspected. The DMV is committed to ensuring the security of driver licenses in California."
Fierros is scheduled to be sentenced May 20. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and 15 years in prison on each of the other 30 counts of conviction. Casarez's sentencing is set for June 10. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison for each of the two conspiracies to which he pleaded guilty.
Last month, Alfonso Casarez also pleaded guilty to charges contained in a second indictment accusing him of conspiring with Manjit Singh, 46, of India, and Yadwinder Singh, 46, of Fresno, to produce and sell driver's licenses to ineligible individuals. Manjit Singh passed applicants' information and money to Casarez to get the licenses issued, and Yadwinder Singh acted as a primary recruiter. Yadwinder Singh was sentenced to three years in prison. The case involving Manjit Singh is pending.
Assistant United States Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Grant B. Rabenn are prosecuting the cases.