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FORMER DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING EMPLOYEE SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR SELLING DRIVERS LICENSES AND ID CARDS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 7, 2005

PEGGY LEE KENDRIX, 48, of Seattle, Washington was sentenced to 18 months in prison today for Conspiracy to Produce and Transfer Identification Documents without Lawful Authority and Production of False Identification Documents. KENDRIX pleaded guilty June 30, 2005. As part of her plea, she admitted that while working for the Department of Licensing at a West Seattle office, she sold more than 79 identifications or drivers licenses to people who were using phoney names. In sentencing KENDRIX to the top of the sentencing guidelines range, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik noted that these IDs were "about the most dangerous type of ID we could have out there.... It's like having a skeleton key to get into any home or car and rob whoever you want."

According to court records, an anonymous tip first led investigators to KENDRIX who had been selling the IDs since early 2004. KENDRIX admits she sold the identifications for $100- $150 each. In one case she provided an ID in a false name in exchange for marijuana. The false identification helped KENDRIX's customers commit other crimes such as bank fraud and identity theft; and in many cases avoid arrest of outstanding felony warrants. Some of those who purchased IDs were sex offenders seeking to avoid registration requirements or foreign nationals seeking to avoid deportation. Because some of those who paid KENDRIX for the IDs sometimes used fake Florida birth certificates, the investigation was dubbed "Miami Vice."

The long-term joint investigation by federal and state law enforcement has resulted in charges against more then 40 defendants, however more than 20 suspects still have not been identified. The task force included officers from the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Washington State Department of Licensing, the Seattle Police Department and the King County Sheriff's Department.

In asking for the longest sentence under the guidelines, Assistant United States Attorney Vince Lombardi told the judge, "It is hard to conceive of a more flagrant abuse of public trust." Lombardi pointed out that the false IDs meant some wanted felons could avoid arrest by giving police the false name. They could then go on to commit more crimes.

Chief Judge Lasnik agreed noting the false IDs allow people to get into secure facilities such as airports and courthouses. "This is like throwing a huge rock into the middle of a lake and having the waves go in many different directions and harm many people," Lasnik said.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vince Lombardi. For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington, at (206)553-4110.

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