A Madera man was sentenced to prison this week for his role in a driver license scheme to issue California driver licenses to people who either did not take a written or behind-the-wheel test or failed to pass those tests.
United States District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill sentenced Victor Vasquez, 36, to 18 months in prison for conspiracy. He was one of 13 defendants convicted in a case that a federal grand jury indicted in August of 2011.
"There were a lot of players in this scheme," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA). "By busting these 13 individuals, our CSLEA members who are investigators with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) put a stop to a scheme that ultimately put every driver out on the roadway at risk. Giving driver licenses to people who failed to take or pass a behind the wheel test is unconscionable."
Vasquez's role in the scheme involved recruiting people who agreed to pay for the license because they had failed a test or did not want to go through the testing process. He also developed a network of recruiters beneath him.
A key figure in this scheme, Alfonso Casarez, 50, of Fresno, worked as a DMV technician who, in exchanged for cash, electronically altered DMV records to falsely reflect passage of all required tests. His sister, Rosemary Fierros, also assisted in recruiting people interested in illegally obtaining driver licenses.
On February 19, 2013, Casarez pleaded guilty for his involvement in the conspiracy. He is scheduled to be sentence on June 10, 2013.
On March 1, 2013, a federal jury convicted Fierros on 31 felony criminal counts. She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 20, 2013.
Last December, Yadwinder Singh, 50, of Fresno, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for his role in the scheme. According to court documents, Singh would wait outside a Fresno DMV office and approach people with an offer to obtain a license without the need to pas the required tests. According to records, Singh caused at least 32 commercial and noncommercial licenses to be unlawfully issued.
"Those unlawfully issued commercial driver licenses would allow individuals to travel freely and haul dangerous cargo throughout the country and through international border crossings," said Kenny Ehrman, president of the Association of Motor Vehicles Investigators of California (AMVIC). "This case in an excellent example of the vital role DMV investigators play in protecting the citizens of California."