DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING EMPLOYEE CHARGED IN SCHEME TO SELL DRIVERS LICENSES
Bellevue DOL Worker and Recruiter Took Cash to Provide Identity Documents
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Washington State Department of Licensing employee MELANIE YODER who is charged in a conspiracy to illegally sell identification documents. RODRIGO MOURA, a Brazilian immigrant was arrested early this morning in Kirkland, Washington, in connection with the scheme. MOURA will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:30 today. YODER did not show up at work this morning and is actively being sought by law enforcement.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, in September 2009, the FBI received a tip that MOURA was arranging for unqualified people to receive Washington State drivers licenses and identity cards. According to the tip, people were coming from all over the United States to get the Washington State documents because the state does not require proof of legal immigration. However, the state does require documentation of residency, and these applicants did not meet that requirement. MOURA allegedly picked the applicants up at the airport, provided them with an address to use in the application process, provided answers to any test questions, and arranged for the applicant to be processed by DOL employee YODER at the Bellevue licensing office. In fact, records revealed that in the month of June 2009, YODER issued forty-five Washington Drivers Licenses to individuals claiming to be from Brazil. According to the Department of Licensing, that is an unusually high number of Brazilian immigrants to be processed by one employee in a short period of time.
The investigation determined that MOURA charged the applicants $3,000 for the licenses, and paid approximately $500 per license to YODER. An applicant wearing a recording device for the FBI participated in the process. At one point YODER informs him that he will have to return to the licensing office the next day when she is working a counter location. She instructs the applicant that when his number is called he should ignore the number, and then approach her counter later, indicating that his number was missed. That way YODER was able to process his paperwork and ensure he would get the identity documents.
Conspiracy to commit unlawful production of identification documents is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Unlawful production of identification documents is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.