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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 5, 2014

Former DMV Employee Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Conspiracy To Commit Bribery, Document Fraud And Witness Tampering In A Widespread Corruption Case At The DMV In Southern California

Jeffrey Bednarek, a former employee at the California Department of Motor Vehicles office in El Cajon, California, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Cathy A. Bencivengo to three years in prison for his leadership role in a conspiracy to commit bribery, identification document fraud and witness tampering. In addition to the prison sentence imposed, the court also ordered Bednarek to pay a fine of $25,000.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Bencivengo told the defendant that as a DMV employee and a former corrections officer, he should have known better. “You were in fact violating the public trust…You had to know it was wrong.”

In comments at today’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Orabona argued for a significant sentence and gave examples of Bednarek’s cavalier attitude about his crimes. “Bednarek’s greed overrode his integrity. His attempt to alter the testimony of a witness just prior to trial showed his determination to mask the truth about his criminal activities.”

Orabona told the judge that Bednarek processed a fraudulent license for an undercover agent, and after it was complete, he handed the agent the temporary license, made the sign of the cross, and said, “Be good. Be gone. And sin no more.”

The prosecutor also read text messages from Bednarek to co-conspirator Jim Bean, referring to the substantial amount of cash he was collecting through the bribery scheme. “Come drop the package chubby. Cha-ching.”

Bednarek pleaded guilty on January 28, 2014. According to court documents, Bednarek was a Licensing Registration Examiner at the El Cajon DMV who was responsible for conducting driving tests for driver’s license applicants. Beginning in at least April 2009, and continuing up to at least April 26, 2012, Bednarek conspired with his co-defendants to commit federal program bribery and identification document fraud. In his plea agreement, Bednarek admitted that he falsely entered “passing” scores for both written and behind-the-wheel tests for applicants who applied for regular (Class C) and commercial (Class A) driver’s licenses in exchange for bribes. Bednarek also acknowledged that he directed others to enter false “passing” test scores and that he created false driving test score sheets to create the appearance that the applicant had completed the test. Bednarek said in his plea agreement that during the conspiracy, he produced more than 100 fraudulent driver’s permits and licenses, and that applicants paid more than $50,000 in total bribes for permits and licenses that he fraudulently produced.

While awaiting an upcoming trial that was scheduled for December 2, 2013, Bednarek tampered with one of the Government’s witnesses, the plea agreement said. According to court documents, Bednarek was arrested on November 13, 2013 pursuant to a complaint for witness tampering. On November 22, 2013, Judge Bencivengo ordered that Bednarek be detained pending trial. Bednarek admitted in his plea agreement that between January 26, 2013 and November 4, 2013, he knowingly attempted to corruptly persuade a Government witness to alter his testimony, namely, to provide false testimony regarding cash bribes that Bednarek had received for his aggravating role in the conspiracy. Bednarek admitted that he intended to prevent and influence the Government witness’s testimony in the trial that was scheduled for December 2, 2013.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said, “Public corruption is one of our highest priorities. Today’s sentence demonstrates that those who violate the public’s trust will be held accountable for their crimes. We thank our partners at the FBI and DMV for their commitment to this important investigation.”

“Our department takes any type of crime among our employees very seriously,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “Our own DMV Investigations Unit and other law enforcement agencies are always on the lookout for this type of illegal activity in any of our field offices.”

Of the 31 defendants charged in this widespread corruption scheme (related Criminal Case Nos. 12CR1852-CAB, 13CR0121-CAB, and 13CR0592-CAB), 30 of the 31 defendants, including Bednarek, have pleaded guilty to felony conduct, namely, conspiracy to commit bribery and identification document fraud. One defendant is a fugitive. All of the former DMV employees convicted in this case were sentenced to prison, and most of the recruiters and driver’s license applicants received probationary sentences. In total, the Court imposed approximately $119,000 in fines. The following table provides a summary of the crimes and sentences for almost all of the defendants in the widespread corruption scheme:

DEFENDANT CASE NO. CHARGE(S) SENTENCE
Jim Lynn Bean
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
Bribery
597 days in prison,
3 years supervised release,
Fine of $25,000
Jeffrey Thomas Bednarek
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
Bribery
Identification
Document Fraud
Witness Tampering
36 months in prison,
3 years supervised release,
Fine of $25,000
Scott David Friedli
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
4 months in prison,
2 years supervised release,
Fine of $1,500
Marco Beltran
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
6 months in prison,
2 years supervised release,
Fine of $4,000
Gabriella Villanueva
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $200
Bashar Assad Azaria
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $2,000
Reenan Esa Kuza
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
2 years probation,
Fine of $3,000
Usman Aliyev
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $2,100
Abdulmajed Alhokair
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Ahmad Alarbeed
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Mohammed Alsuwaidi
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Khalid Abdulaziz Al-Sowaidi
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Talal Bass Almousharji
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $900
Virginia Pena
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
51 days in prison,
2 years supervised release,
Fine of $600
Gizem Yontar
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Douri Zafer
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Asiel Bahjat Tomika
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $4,600
Angel Salvador Astimibay
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Bekzad Mirhanov
12CR1852-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Jesus Leon
13CR0121-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $200
Jesse Mario Bryan
13CR0592-CAB
Conspiracy
Bribery
6 months in prison,
3 years supervised release,
Fine of $25,000
Alexander Gonzalez
13CR0592-CAB
Conspiracy
12 days in prison,
32 months supervised release,
Fine of $8,000
Frank Tom Attiq
13CR0592-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $200
Ali Al Nadawi
13CR0592-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,500
Saleh Almuzini
13CR0592-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Matthew Allan Elliott
13CR0592-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000
Mohamed Alali
13CR0592-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $800
James Lester Shaw
13CR0592-CAB
Conspiracy
10 days in prison,
2 years supervised release,
Fine of $4,000
Hassan Hamad Althani
13CR0592-CAB
Conspiracy
5 years probation,
Fine of $1,000

These cases are the result of an active, ongoing criminal investigation. Anyone with information about corruption at the DMV is asked to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-877-NO-BRIBE (662-7423), or the DMV’s Investigations Branch-Office of Internal Affairs at 626-851-0173.

DEFENDANT   Case Number: 12CR1852-CAB
Jeffrey T. Bednarek Age: 54  
     
SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Count 1 Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 -- Conspiracy to Commit Bribery and to Produce Unauthorized Identification Documents -- statutory maximum sentence of 5 years’ custody, a maximum fine of $250,000, special assessment of $100, and a maximum term of supervised release of 3 years. 

Count 2 Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(1)(B) -- Bribery -- statutory maximum sentence of 10 years’ custody, special assessment of $100, and a maximum term of supervised release of 3 years.

Count 7: Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(b)(1) -- Witness Tampering -- statutory maximum sentence of 20 years’ custody, a maximum fine of $250,000, special assessment of $100, and a maximum term of supervised release of 3 years.

 

INVESTIGATING AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Motor Vehicles B Investigations Division

     
Updated July 23, 2015