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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge Relating to a Scheme to Provide Fraudulent Maryland Driver’s Licenses to Applicants Who Paid a Fee

Conspiracy Included Bribe Payments to Two Employees of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration

Greenbelt, Maryland – Warner Antonio Portillo, age 34, of Manassas, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to produce and transfer identification documents without lawful authority, specifically, Maryland driver’s licenses. 

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore.

According to his plea agreement, from at least July 2015 through March 2016, Portillo conspired with two employees of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA conspirators), who worked in the Largo, Maryland branch office, and others, to produce and transfer Maryland driver’s licenses without lawful authority.  Specifically, Portillo and others met with prospective Maryland driver’s license applicants who were willing to pay money to obtain a driver’s license illegally, typically because the applicants were aliens without legal status in the United States or were otherwise unable to obtain a lawfully issued driver’s license.  The applicants paid Portillo and his co-conspirators between $800 and $5,000 in cash for each fraudulently issued Maryland driver’s license.

Portillo admitted that he gave the MVA conspirators the names, addresses, and other information that applicants wished to appear on their Maryland driver’s licenses.  Portillo provided the applicants and the MVA conspirators with fraudulent documents necessary to obtain a Maryland driver’s license, including proof of payment of taxes, proof of Maryland residence, a valid license number from Motor Vehicle Departments in other states, and an identification document.  Portillo and others assisted the applicants to travel to the Largo branch of the MVA, and directed the applicants to one of the MVA conspirators’ workstations, where applicants obtained Maryland driver’s licenses produced by the MVA conspirators without lawful authority.

Portillo paid the MVA conspirators bribes of between approximately $500 and $1,000 in cash for each fraudulently issued Maryland driver’s license transferred to the applicants.  The conspiracy resulted in the unlawful production and transfer of at least 276 Maryland driver’s licenses.

MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer stated, “Following the April 2016 investigation, MDOT MVA immediately cancelled all of the fraudulent licenses in question. The MVA also implemented system changes to prevent the unlawful production and transfer of licenses and retrained and reinforced these procedures among our staff.”

Portillo faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for the conspiracy.  As part of his plea agreement, Portillo will also be required to pay a money judgment of at least $276,000, which constitutes assets derived from or obtained by Portillo as a result of the conspiracy.  U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang has scheduled sentencing for December 19, 2019, at 2:00 p.m.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended HSI for its work in the investigation and thanked the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration Investigation and Security Services for its assistance.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly O. Hayes, who is prosecuting the case.

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Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated August 15, 2019