former st. joseph license office employee indicted;
more than 100 illegal aliens used false ID to obtain licenses
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former employee of the license fee office in St. Joseph, Mo., operated by a contractor for the Missouri Department of Revenue, along with a St. Joseph husband and wife, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a conspiracy to provide false identity documents so that more than 100 illegal immigrants could fraudulently obtain driver’s and non-driver’s licenses from the license office in St. Joseph.
Thomas Richard McNamara III, 26, Hector Juarez Mendoza, Sr., 54, a citizen of Mexico who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and his wife, Isabel Ramirez Mendoza, 62, all of St. Joseph, were added as co-defendants in an 18-count superseding indictment that was returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. That indictment was unsealed and made public today upon the arrest and initial court appearances of Hector and Isabel Mendoza.
Domingo Ajanel-Castro, 33, a citizen of Guatemala residing in St. Joseph, and Pedro Pablo-Solis, 28, a citizen of Guatemala residing in Liberal, Kan., were charged in an Aug. 15, 2012, indictment and remain as co-defendants in this superseding indictment. According to the indictment, Ajanel-Castro and Pablo-Solis are illegally in the United States.
The federal indictment alleges that all five co-defendants participated in a conspiracy from July 1, 2010, to Jan. 10, 2012, to sell fraudulently obtained birth certificates and Social Security cards in the names of others. These birth certificates and Social Security cards would then be used by illegal aliens to obtain Missouri driver’s or non-driver’s licenses, the indictment alleges, all of which could then be used by the illegal aliens to remain unlawfully in the United States, to unlawfully obtain employment and for other unlawful purposes.
According to the indictment, illegal aliens would travel from across the United States to obtain licenses at the St. Joseph license office by using the unlawfully obtained birth certificates and Social Security cards. It is estimated that well over 100 Missouri licenses have been unlawfully issued to illegal aliens as part of this conspiracy.
Ajanel-Castro allegedly received identification document sets from Pablo-Solis, who obtained and sold state-issued birth certificates and corresponding Social Security cards in matching document sets. Ajanel-Castro then sold the document sets to the illegal aliens, the indictment says, for between $500 and $950 for the document sets and the licenses.
Isabel and Hector Mendoza allegedly charged illegal aliens an additional fee of approximately $100 to escort them to the license office in St. Joseph. They accompanied illegal aliens into the St. Joseph license office under the guise of being translators, the indictment says, in order to assist them with obtaining a Missouri license that was in the name of another person who was listed on unlawfully obtained birth certificates and Social Security cards. They allegedly assisted illegal aliens in preparing for potential questions from the license office employees, such as learning the names on the birth certificates, the names of the parents on the birth certificates, the dates of birth and the Social Security numbers, as well as practicing signing the name similar to the signature that appeared on the Social Security card. The Mendozas allegedly assisted illegal aliens who did not live in Missouri by providing them with a Missouri residential address to use in order to obtain the license, the indictment says.
McNamara, an employee at the license office during the time of the conspiracy, allegedly facilitated the issuance of licenses to illegal aliens who were escorted by the Mendozas. The Mendozas paid McNamara to accept certain identity documents that he was not supposed to accept, the indictment says, including invalid Puerto Rican birth certificates and certain state-issued birth certificates. Isabel Mendoza often called McNamara in advance of bringing illegal aliens into the license office, the indictment says, to make sure he would be working and to let him know she was bringing in clients with inadequate identification documents.
According to the indictment, the Mendozas paid McNamara $70 to $100 for each time he issued a license to an illegal alien who failed to provide adequate identification documents. McNamara did this frequently, the indictment says, and met the Mendozas during non-work hours at other locations to be paid.
In addition to the conspiracy, Ajanel-Castro and the Mendozas are charged together with one count of illegally producing identification documents and one count of aggravated identity theft. Ajanel-Castro and Hector Mendoza are charged together with one count of illegally producing identification documents and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Ajanel-Castro and Pablo-Solis are charged together in three counts of aggravated identity theft, three counts of Social Security fraud and two counts of illegally transferring a person’s identity documents to another person.
Ajanel-Castro is also charged with two more counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of possessing false documents, one count of making a false statement on a federal document and one count of illegally reentering the United States after having been deported.
The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require the defendants to forfeit to the government any property obtained from the proceeds of the alleged offenses, including a money judgment of $125,000 and the proceeds contained in the Mendozas’ bank accounts. Isabel Mendoza would also be required to forfeit three vehicles that were allegedly used to further the conspiracy – a Chevrolet Silverado, a Dodge Ram and a Dodge Durango.
Ketchmark cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford. It was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, the Buchanan County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the St. Joseph, Mo., Police Department, the Platte County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Department of Revenue Investigation Bureau, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.