A Bolivian national named as the middleman in an apparent cash-for-driver’s license conspiracy “confessed” to FBI agents a month ago and helped investigators set up a sting operation that led this week to the arrest of the manager of a Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles official and his wife, an FBI affidavit says.
Francisco J. Martinez, who managed the DMV Customer Service Center at Springfield Mall, and his wife, Miriam, a former DMV clerk, were arrested just days after two undercover agents — posing as “Pedro Sanchez” and “Juan Sanchez” — paid $6,000 for two Virginia driver’s licenses, according to the affidavit.
Daniel Jose Guardia Lopez, 25, of Alexandria, the Bolivian national, introduced the two agents as his “cousins from Bolivia” and made arrangements through Mrs. Martinez in telephone calls monitored by the FBI to get them the Virginia licenses. He pleaded guilty in the case on Monday.
Mr. Martinez, 57, and his wife, 56, were arrested at their Stafford, Va., home, accused of conspiracy to commit identification fraud and produce Virginia driver’s licenses by fraud, both felonies. Now suspended by the DMV, Mr. Martinez and his wife are scheduled for a preliminary detention hearing today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan.
In the affidavit, FBI Agent Pamela Bombari said Mr. Guardia Lopez gave Mrs. Martinez cash for the two licenses and received blank DMV application forms in return at a June 30 meeting in the parking lot of a 7-11 in Alexandria. It said Mr. Guardia Lopez was told to fax the completed applications to Mrs. Martinez at her home.
The applications were faxed by the FBI with a note from Mr. Guardia Lopez asking Mrs. Martinez to call him. The affidavit said the signed but undated applications contained phony names, addresses and biographical information of the two cousins.
On July 2, the affidavit said, Mrs. Martinez called to meet with Mr. Guardia Lopez at the DMV Springfield office, but he told her he was out of state. Instead, he said his “cousins” would attend the meeting. The agents met Mrs. Martinez outside the Springfield office, where — according to the affidavit — she was overheard giving a description of what they were wearing over her cell phone.
The agents were then told to go inside and wait until their names were called, the affidavit said, adding that Mr. Martinez came out of the office and took the applications from his wife. Within an hour, the two men were called by DMV clerks, photographed and issued Virginia driver’s licenses, the affidavit said.
“At no time on July 2, 2005, did either (undercover agent) present an application, identification document or an out of state license to a DMV employee,” the affidavit said. “Similarly, neither (undercover agent) paid DMV a fee for the license.”
DMV spokeswoman Pam Goheen yesterday noted that Mr. Martinez is accused of using his position to influence his subordinates, adding that guidelines have been in place since 2002 to guard against the fraudulent issuance of licenses. Under normal circumstances, she said, document verifiers would have been able to double-check the applications.
In the future, she said, follow-up reconciliation of applications will be made by officials at the agency’s Richmond headquarters to guard against fraudulent entries by management personnel or others.