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Document and Benefit Fraud
03/15/2011

Operators of driver license mill charged in counterfeit documents fraud scheme

OCALA, Fla. - A federal grand jury returned a 22-count indictment, which was unsealed Monday, charging three individuals - including a Florida driver's license examiner - in a counterfeit documents fraud scheme. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Florida Highway Patrol.

Gaitrie Latchman, 46, Rajin A. Latchman, 28, and Ted B. Shirley, 49, all residents of Winter Garden, Fla., were arrested March 14 following their indictment for a conspiracy that involved creating and transferring false identification documents, altering and transferring foreign passports, and making false statements in applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

"Targeting counterfeit document schemes is a top enforcement priority for ICE," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Tampa. "Document fraud puts the security of our communities and even our country at risk by creating vulnerabilities that could be exploited by dangerous criminals, and even potential terrorists, in an attempt to obscure their identities and cover their tracks."

While the indictment charges all three defendants with transferring false identification documents and with furnishing altered passports to others, it also includes counts charging the Latchmans with making false statements in applications to USCIS, and charging Gaitrie with applying for and fraudulently obtaining U.S. citizenship while knowing that she was not eligible.

According to the indictment, for a fee of between $2,500 and $3,000, Gaitrie and Rajin arranged for illegal aliens to each obtain a Florida driver's license. They were allegedly assisted by Shirley, who was an examiner at the Office of the Florida Department of Driver Licenses (FDDL) in Clermont, Fla.

As part of their services, the Latchmans provided aliens with immigration and identification documents for them to present at the FDDL office. To obtain such documents, the Latchmans filed applications with USCIS, causing the issuance of Form I-797C Notices of Action, which served as both an immigration classification document and as proof of identity.

The Latchmans also altered I-797C Notices and foreign passports. According to the indictment, the Latchmans coordinated with Shirley so that their customers made contact only with him when they visited the FDDL office, thereby avoiding any scrutiny of such documents. During this period of criminal activity, Gaitrie also applied for naturalization and obtained U.S. citizenship.

If convicted on all counts, Rajin and Shirley face a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison; Gaitrie faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Armstrong, Middle District of Florida, is prosecuting this case.