LEADER OF FRAUDULENT DRIVER'S LICENSE SCHEME SENTENCED
March 7, 2011
Defendant Conspired With Georgia Driver’s License Examiner and Chinese Nationals
to Issue Hundreds of Fraudulent Georgia Driver’s Licenses to Illegal Aliens
ATLANTA, GA - ZHONG LIANG LI a/k/a KEN LI, 34, of Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. to serve over four years in federal prison for conspiring with a Georgia driver’s license examiner to issue fraudulent driver’s licenses to illegal aliens from China.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “The defendant sentenced today was the ringleader of a fraud scheme that resulted in bogus driver’s licenses being issued to hundreds of Chinese nationals illegally residing in the United States. His customers paid thousands of dollars to be driven to Thomasville and Colquitt, Georgia, where a state driver’s license examiner knowingly issued them driver’s licenses without the legally required documentation or examinations. The licenses contained fake names, addresses, and immigration numbers provided by the defendants or their customers. The defendant corrupted the critical function performed by the Georgia Department of Driver Services – providing legitimate identification documents to those entitled to reside in the United States – and will spend years in federal prison as a result.”
LI was sentenced to 4 years, 2 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. LI was convicted of these charges on December 3, 2010, after a four-day trial.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: KEN LI, who lived in the Thomasville, Georgia area from 1998 to 2006, placed advertisements in a Chinese language newspaper, the World Journal, that is distributed in major cities with large Chinese-speaking populations, including Atlanta. The ads stated that KEN LI could assist persons who did not have documentation to obtain driver’s licenses in Georgia and other states. Hundreds of illegal aliens from China responded to the ads. They were instructed to meet KEN LI or one of his co-conspirators, GUO XING SONG a/k/a ANDI CHEN or ZHONG HUA LI a/k/a JOHN LI, at a designated location in Atlanta, usually a gas station or shopping center parking lot, from which they were driven to Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) stations in either Colquitt or Thomasville, Georgia. CLEVELAND SPENCER, a Georgia DDS examiner who worked at those locations, issued driver’s licenses to KEN LI’s customers without requiring any documentation showing legal residence in the United States. SPENCER issued the licenses with names and addresses provided by the customers, without any verification, and made up immigration numbers for the file. He also did not require KEN LI’s customers to take the written and road tests necessary for a Georgia driver’s license. KEN LI’s customers paid approximately $2,000 to $3,000 for the licenses. LI paid SPENCER up to $500 for each fraudulently issued license, and also paid SONG and JOHN LI for their services. SONG ran ads and answered phones for KEN LI later in the conspiracy. Georgia DDS records indicate that approximately 300 licenses were fraudulently issued during the conspiracy.
KEN LI’s three co-conspirators were previously sentenced by Judge Batten. SPENCER, 47, of Thomasville, Georgia was sentenced to 2 years in prison. SONG, 44, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison. SPENCER and SONG cooperated with the investigation and testified at LI’s trial. JOHN LI, 32, of Brooklyn, New York, whose involvement in the scheme was more limited, was sentenced to 1 year and a day in prison. All of the sentences are to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Teresa D. Hoyt and Stephen H. McClain prosecuted the case.For further information please contact Sally Q. Yates, United States Attorney, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the HomePage for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is www.justice.gov/usao/gan