Corrupt DMV Official Sentenced to 46 Months for Assisting Illegal Aliens in Obtaining Virginia Driver’s Licenses
RICHMOND, Va. – Roberto Lainez, 24, of Chesterfield, Va, was sentenced today to 46 months in prison for his role in a fraudulent identification scheme that allowed illegal aliens to obtain authentic government issued identification documents. As part of the scheme, Lainez, a customer service representative at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”), accepted bribes in exchange for unlawfully issuing at least 25 Virginia driver’s licenses to illegal aliens in the Richmond area.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Richard D. Holcomb, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles; and John W. Schilling, Special Agent in Charge of the Diplomatic Security Service Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Henry E. Hudson .
“Dozens of illegal aliens are walking the streets under a false identity because Mr. Lainez took bribes and betrayed the trust the DMV placed in him,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Conspirators charged a steep fee because they had a DMV employee on their payroll. Now Mr. Lainez is facing steep punishment for selling his office to criminals seeking to exploit our immigration system.”
Lainez pled guilty on January 6, 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit identity fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. Judge Hudson imposed a 46 month sentence on each count, and ordered they run concurrently.
According to court documents, from approximately 2008 to 2011, Cynthia Salamanca purchased social security cards and birth certificates from United States citizens in Puerto Rico and sold those documents to illegal aliens in Richmond and elsewhere. Because Virginia requires three forms of identification to obtain a driver’s license while some states only require two, Salamanca initially would accompany her illegal alien customers to the DMVs in Pennsylvania and North Carolina to obtain official government-issued identity cards and driver’s licenses in the names of others. The illegal aliens would then use these fraudulently obtained licenses and the false identity documents provided by Salamanca to obtain Virginia driver’s licenses.
In October 2010, Salamanca recruited Lainez to eliminate her need to take her customers out of state to obtain drivers’ licenses in other jurisdictions to use as a third form of identification. In exchange for several thousands of dollars in bribes, Lainez falsified DMV records by indicating that the customers, using fraudulent names, had surrendered out-of-state licenses as a form of identification when they had not, and also falsely indicated that some customers had passed the Virginia DMV driver’s test when they had not. In this way, Lainez caused DMV to issue to individuals he knew were illegal aliens Virginia driver’s licenses in fraudulent identities. In total, Salamanca acknowledged assisting between 50 to 100 illegal aliens in obtaining hundreds of government issued documents. Lainez has been linked to issuing driver’s licenses to between 25-50 illegal aliens.
In imposing the 46 month sentence, Judge Hudson sentenced Lainez above the recommended Federal Sentencing Guideline range, because of the large number of bribes taken by Lainez and because his assistance in obtaining false documentation for numerous illegal aliens will have lasting harm on society.
In addition to Lainez, five other individuals involved in the conspiracy have pled guilty. On February 17, 2012, Judge Hudson sentenced Salamanca to 171 months imprisonment.
This case was investigated by the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles-Office of Law Enforcement Services, and Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen W. Miller and Erik S. Siebert prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.