Nancy Brown had to be making bank, right?
Brown is the Department of Motor Vehicles employee who federal agents claim hatched an in-house scam during which she helped create 187 false driver's licenses for presumably the same number of undocumented immigrants.
According to the federal complaint filed against the 28-year-old Brown, illegal immigrants seeking driver's licenses would simply show up at the DMV office on Sahara Avenue during certain windows of time. Instead of following the protocol and displaying the next customer number, Brown allegedly waved over her personal clients, who skipped the information line when entering the office.
By avoiding the information counter, those who benefited from the scheme also avoided another set of eyes verifying documents.
Brown noted on paperwork that the "drivers" had no Social Security card but had valid documents from the Department of Homeland Security and Customs Enforcement. Once Brown processed them, off they went to have their photo snapped. A few weeks later, presto, they receive a valid driver's license in the mail giving an appearance that they were in the country lawfully.
Only they were not. They were in the country illegally and, according to federal court documents, many previously have been bounced from the United States after felony arrests, mostly drug-related.
Brown collected anywhere between $1,700 and $3,000 to process the licenses, the complaint says. Roughly $375,000 over an 11-month period is not exactly chump change.
Brown was brazen, too, according to the complaint. At one point, she was accompanied by a trainer as DMV technicians were being taught the new insurance verification program. For nearly a month, surveillance cameras set up above her station didn't detect that any of her transactions were fraudulent, the complaints says. One day the trainer went home sick at 2:45 p.m., and Brown allegedly processed her first bogus transaction at 3:57 p.m.
Federal investigators were on to the ruse for several months. It must have driven DMV officials nuts that surveillance equipment, which streamed video directly back to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, was running for two months before Brown was arrested.
Understandable, because the federal government watched as illegal immigrants wandered back into the world with a temporary driver's license. Apparently the DMV has the ability to track the licenses down and cancel them.
This case goes far beyond any quick-and-dirty, money-making trick to aid undocumented immigrants looking to find work in the United States.
Fraudulently obtained driver's licenses have proved to be a key tool used by terrorists gaining access to undetectable bank accounts and, of course, boarding an airplane. As the website humanevents.com noted, key stops on Osama bin Laden's path to attacking the United States were not in Afghanistan, but at DMV offices.
Hijackers created fraudulent documents that allowed them to obtain the picture identification cards needed to board planes; 13 were from Florida, seven from Virginia, two from California and two from New Jersey, according to various sources.
Seriously, who knows what the folks Brown helped out ultimately had in mind? DMV officials like to say that there is no good motive to possess a fake driver's license.
After the terrorist attacks, Nevada changed its requirements for newcomers seeking to acquire a driver's license. Before 2003, all a motorist needed was their out-of-state license and it was an across-the-board trade-in. Then they noticed the types with nefarious purpose were first visiting states with the most lax identification requirements, then returning to Nevada for the trade-in.
Now newcomers need two forms of identification such as a passport or a Social Security card.
Tom Jacobs, spokesman for the agency, declined to comment about the Brown case or even explain the training DMV technicians undergo before being placed behind a counter.
You would think it would have to be extensive, given that the department has the potential role in terrorism.
Maybe it takes extensive training to become a technician, but there is no question the DMV has had its share of bad apples lately.
Former DMV employee Marilyn D. Millender pleaded guilty to bribery for her role in selling identification documents to a small number of illegal immigrants in 2007. She was sentenced to six months in a federal halfway house.
Former DMV technician Dalva Flagg pleaded guilty in 2004 to collecting more than $300,000 in exchange for providing illegal immigrants unauthorized documents during a two-year period. She received a six-year prison sentence.
It might not appear that the scheme in which Brown is alleged to have participated or the crimes of the other two women are all that harmful. It obviously was a lucrative side-business, but in truth, it was a side-business that placed the entire country at risk.
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