ATLANTA - Gbemisola Wellington-Salako, 36, of Marietta, Ga., and Jules Armand Che Siewe Achou, 33, of Atlanta, were sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Orinda D. Evans for conspiring to issue Georgia driver's licenses to people who did not qualify for them, but who were willing to pay up to $2,500 per license, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other law enforcement agencies.
Wellington-Salako, a former driver's license examiner, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and Siewe Achou was sentenced to13 months in federal prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. A citizen of Cameroon, Siewe Achou will face deportation proceedings after he serves his sentence.
Both pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiring to produce and distribute false identification documents.
"People like Wellington-Salako, who are willing to violate the public's trust for money, could potentially be impacting the national security of our country by giving legitimate documents to those who aren't entitled to them," said Brock Nicholson, acting special agent in charge of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office in Atlanta. "These acts will not go unpunished."
According to court records, Wellington-Salako was a driver's license examiner in the Department of Driver Services (DDS) Customer Service Center on County Services Parkway in Marietta in June 2007 when she agreed to work with Siewe Achou to provide driver's licenses to people who did not qualify for them, but who would pay up to $2,500 for a license.
Siewe Achou would find customers and send them to Wellington-Salako, who would then issue them licenses without any tests or proof of legal residency in Georgia. Siewe Achou later shared the money that had been collected from their customers with Wellington-Salako. Eventually, Siewe Achou recruited other men to help him find customers for the conspiracy. Between June 2007 and September 2009, the conspirators caused the DDS to issue up to 40 fraudulent driver's licenses.
Three other individuals, Nambaladja Souleymane Fofana, 29, of Atlanta; Mohamed Cellou Bamba, 34, of Atlanta; and Omar Sheriff Manjang, 45, of Lawrenceville, Ga., were also charged in the conspiracy. They each pleaded guilty to assisting Siewe Achou in finding customers for the conspiracy. Fofana and Bamba were sentenced to prison for eight months, with deportation proceedings to follow. Manjang was sentenced to one year of probation.
This case was investigated by special agents of ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs, the Georgia DDS, and an investigator from the DeKalb County Police Department.
"The successful investigation and subsequent prosecution of these defendants are yet another example of what can be accomplished when local, state, and federal agencies work together to identify and arrest those involved in criminal activity and subversive actions against our state and nation," said Director Vernon Keenan of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. "The hard work and dedication of the U. S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the U. S. Department of Homeland Security personnel, and GBI agents involved in this case are commendable."
"DDS is committed to combating driver license fraud and identity theft as demonstrated in the proactive work of the DDS Investigative Services team," said DDS Commissioner Gregory C. Dozier. "This case is a perfect example of how a multi-agency task force can unite to combat illegal immigration and identity theft and support homeland security."
Assistant U.S. Attorney William G. Traynor prosecuted the case.