Dozens of Floridians Accused of Fraudulently Obtaining Driver Licenses, Risking National Security
CONTACT: Tara Klimek or Nina Banister
Seven arrested in ongoing investigation that may lead to hundreds of arrests
MIAMI—Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the arrests today of seven Floridians accused of posing a risk to Florida’s and the nation’s security by fraudulently obtaining Florida Commercial Driver Licenses (CDLs). The investigation is ongoing and authorities believe hundreds of individuals are involved, with additional arrests anticipated in the next few days. Some will also be charged with insurance application fraud.
Between November 2005 and April 2007, civilians who had never been in the military fraudulently obtained a United States Department of Defense waiver form. The waiver indicated that the holder had been trained by the United States Army to operate heavy vehicles. Some of these individuals, who had never received or completed the required training, used these fraudulently obtained CDLs to obtain either personal or commercial vehicle insurance.
“This scheme posed a risk to our nation’s security and put others on the road in jeopardy because these drivers did not have the training they claimed to have,” said CFO Sink. “I thank all of the law enforcement agencies involved for working together to protect Floridians and our nation.”
CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), said that today’s arrests follow an investigation by DIF, the U.S. Department of Defense - Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS); U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); the Florida Highway Patrol, and the Florida Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Compliance Office.
Steven Baez, a sergeant with the Army National Guard stationed at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead, sold each waiver form, Operator Qualification Record DA FORM 348-E, for as little as $400 and as much as $1,300. Baez pled guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to cause the production of false identification documents and two counts of bribery of a public official and faces up to 15 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for January 16, 2008, before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke. Today’s arrests are being prosecuted in Miami-Dade County and sentences upon conviction could range from five to 10 years in prison.
“Today's arrests clearly demonstrate our commitment to thwarting identity theft and document fraud,” said Anthony Mangione, special agent-in-charge of ICE investigations in Miami. “Document fraud involves efforts to obtain genuine identity documents through fraudulent means and the alteration of valid documents to be used for fraudulent purposes. Identity and document fraud pose a clear national security threat and we will continue working tirelessly to identify, arrest and bring to justice those involved in these illegal schemes."
Special Agent in Charge Christopher Amato, of the Pentagon's Criminal Investigative Service, Southeast Field Office, stated, "The fraudulent use of Department of Defense resources by a military member to violate the integrity of our infrastructure is taken very seriously by the DCIS. The DCIS will continue to play a vital role in the ongoing efforts to better secure and protect our nation from both external threats and internal corruption."
Anyone who purchased one of these fraudulent waivers or has additional information is urged to cooperate with the investigation by calling DIF Lt. Bill Santner at 305-536-0355.
Those arrested today are:
DIAZ, GREGORY – DOB 11/27/1984, Miami
DIAZ, LINA BELKIS - DOB 12/19/1964, Miami
DIAZ, LUIS ENRIQUE - DOB 4/12/1969, Miami
FERNANDEZ, JOSE – DOB 12/19/1983, Homestead
MONTESINO, JESUS LUIS - DOB 8/15/1959, Miami
RAMOS, ADALBERTO – DOB 11/28/1967, Miami
RAMOS, JACINTO – DOB 9/11/1968, Homestead
These individuals were booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.