United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Madera Woman Pleads Guilty In Fraudulent Driver’s License Scheme
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
April 30, 2012
Docket #: 1:11-cr-00274 LJO
FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced that Cassandra Casarez Fierros, 19, of Madera, pleaded guilty today to making false statements to a government agency when she was questioned about a fraudulent driver’s license scheme.
According to court documents, on August 18, 2011, thirteen people were indicted in a scheme that involved selling fraudulently obtained California driver’s licenses to ineligible individuals. For a fee, a DMV technician electronically altered DMV records to reflect that applicants for “Class C” or “Class A” commercial driver’s licenses had passed required written and behind-the-wheel tests when in fact they had not passed those tests. Based on that information, the DMV issued official California driver’s licenses to the applicants.
According to court documents, on February 25, 2011, Fierros told an ICE Homeland Security Investigations agent and a DMV investigator that she never took or passed a behind-the-wheel test but obtained her driver’s license from her uncle, a DMV technician. He provided it to her as a favor to her mother. But at another interview with agents on June 23, 2011, Fierros recanted her prior statements. She told the agents that she had taken and passed the DMV written and behind-the-wheel tests in 2010 at the DMV office in Madera. She claimed she received her driver’s license via U.S. mail.
“Targeting schemes like this that enable individuals to illegally obtain legitimate U.S. identity documents is a top enforcement priority for ICE Homeland Security Investigations,” said Clark Settles, the special agent in charge who oversees HSI Fresno. “Those who engage in this type of fraud are putting the security of our communities and even our country at risk.”
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Investigations Division, Office of Internal Affairs. Assistant United States Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and Grant B. Rabenn are prosecuting the case.
Fierros is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on July 9, 2012. She faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Charges are currently pending against Fierros’s uncle Alfonso Casarez and her mother Rosemary Fierros as well as 10 other defendants. They are scheduled for a hearing before Judge O’Neill on May 21, 2012. The charges are only allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.