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Document and Benefit Fraud

Maryland man convicted in scheme to sell fraudulently issued driver?

GREENBELT, Md. - A federal jury convicted Patrick Gordon, 32, of Upper Marlboro, Md., today for his participation in a conspiracy to produce and sell Maryland driver's licenses to individuals who were not entitled to obtain the licenses lawfully, announced U. S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, following a joint investigation involving U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

According to testimony at the trial, from July 2008 to Jan. 3, 2009, applicants for Maryland driver's licenses who were not entitled to obtain the licenses lawfully paid Gordon and his wife, Natalie Palmer, thousands of dollars to obtain fraudulently issued Maryland driver's licenses. Gordon and Palmer gave the names, addresses and other information that applicants wished to appear on their driver's licenses to Avanti Blackwell, a former employee of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Blackwell forwarded this information to Evita Baker, an MVA employee who worked Saturday shifts at the MVA's Largo Branch.

Gordon and Palmer helped the customers travel to the Largo Branch and then directed them to Baker's workstation to obtain the unlawfully produced driver's licenses. Gordon and Palmer paid Baker and Blackwell $2,000 to be shared between them, for each fraudulently issued Maryland driver's license that Baker produced and transferred to the customers.

The conspirators received a total of at least $128,000 from approximately 64 applicants who sought to obtain unlawfully produced driver's licenses. The government seeks forfeiture of this amount, plus two vehicles and a semi-automatic pistol. Gordon faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison each for conspiracy to produce and transfer identification documents produced without lawful authority; aiding and abetting the production of identification documents produced without lawful authority; and aiding and abetting the transfer of identification documents produced without lawful authority.

U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. scheduled sentencing for Oct. 19, 2009, at 9:30 a.m.
Avanti Blackwell, 24, of Accokeek, Md., Evita Baker, 23, of Forestville, Md., and Natalie Palmer, 35, of Upper Marlboro, previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the scheme and are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 21, 2009, Sept. 30, 2009, and Oct. 5, 2009, respectively. All three sentencings are scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

U. S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked ICE, U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration - Investigation and Security Services Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant U. S. Attorneys Michael Pauze and Robert K. Hur, who are prosecuting the case.