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Document and Benefit Fraud

ICE Homeland Security Investigations agents disrupt stolen identity ring

NEW YORK - The leader of a New York-based identity fraud ring was sentenced to 85 months in prison last week. This sentencing was the result of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) joint investigation with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NYS-DMV).

According to court documents, Wilch Dewalt, 53, was the ringleader of a New York-based identity fraud ring that sold stolen identity information to convicted felons, a sex offender, an individual featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted," and, among others, an undercover officer who claimed to be on the U.S. Government no-fly list.

To carry out this scheme, DeWalt paid cash bribes to two NYS-DMV employees: Glenda Hinton and Robin Jones-Woodson, who assisted him in obtaining the NYS-DMV documents in the stolen identities. Hinton used a NYS-DMV database to determine whether any identification documents had previously been issued in the stolen identities and then provided that information to DeWalt. Jones-Woodson met with DeWalt's customers and helped them process their NYS-DMV applications. Jones-Woodson also completed the written learner's permit examination for some of DeWalt's customers.

This stolen information was used to obtain more than 200 New York State driver's licenses, learner's permits, and identification cards (collectively, "NYS-DMV Documents") for these individuals.

DeWalt served as a "one-stop shop" for fraudulent identification documents and charged his customers as much as $10,000 for his services. He supplied his customers with a complete "package" of identification documents that they could then use to obtain a NYS-DMV Document in a stolen identity.

On February 4, 2011, DeWalt pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit identity fraud, aggravated identity theft, and bribery. In addition to his prison term, DeWalt will serve three years of supervised release and will forfeit $200,000.

Hinton and Jones-Woodson each previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the scheme.

The following three participants in the scheme have also pleaded guilty: Jose R. Torres Munoz, who was one of the people from whom Dewalt purchased stolen personal identification information; Douglas L. Roper, who acted as a broker and directed customers seeking fraudulent NYS-DMV identification documents to DeWalt; and Sara Del Rocio Cherrez Romero, who provided instructions to DeWalt's Spanish-speaking customers about how to obtain their fraudulent NYS-DMV documents.

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, thanked all of the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation; including ICE HSI, the NYPD, the NYS-DMV, the New York State Office of the Inspector General, the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Secret Service.