While the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has had criminal cases filed against it before, federal authorities have most recently been putting a heavier focus cracking down on its workers caught issuing fraudulent driver’s licenses and permits.
Federal officials say that investigators from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have also been joining in on the work of undercover agents.
Cases on the department notoriously known for long lines have shown up in the last number of years, but the numbers saw a stark uptick last year with at least 20 more cases having been filed by prosecutors since.
In June of this year, a federal jury found a former Salinas DMV employee, Robert Turchin, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and identity fraud, and three counts of identity fraud.
“This prosecution of a California state employee for bribery resulting in grave danger to public safety is very troubling,” said U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott during the trial. “It is alarming to think that unqualified persons were licensed to operate big rigs and buses on our public roadways. We will continue to do everything we can to root out public corruption at any level, and hold those in positions of trust accountable for their greed.”
A month later, Sarah Laray Sandoval, a former West Sacramento DMV employee, was sentenced to three years and three months in prison after she plead guilty to three counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Along with her co-defendant Anthony Zamarron, authorities said their schemes resulted in a loss over $77,000, and involved over 100 victims.
The Sacramento Bee reported of one of defendant from a case last year being the daughter of a DMV deputy chief of investigations and enforcement.
Kari Scattaglia and Lisa Terraciano—both former DMV employees in the Los Angeles area—pleaded guilty last November to charges regarding their role in allowing numerous California driver’s license applicants to pay their way out of taking written and behind-the-wheel exams, according to federal court documents.
Scattaglia was a licensing registration examiner and manager in Arleta and Granada Hills, while Terraciano worked as a motor vehicle representative in Winnetka.
Court documents showed Scattaglia as being responsible for issuing at least 68 fake licenses and permits.
“The DMV Investigations Division conducts a thorough investigation of every complaint filed and takes action when an employee is found to be committing workplace fraud,” reads a statement obtained by Redding’s local ABC 7 station KRCR.
Armando Botello of the DMV’s Office of Public Affairs continued, “These employees are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and works closely with U.S. Attorney offices statewide. The DMV is responsible for initiating the cases involving all 40 DMV employees, brokers, driver school owners/operators that have been referred to the federal Eastern District since 2011.”