Three in custody in fake driver's license scheme
Posted at: 11/20/2012 6:33 PM
By: Maria Guererro, KOB Eyewitness News 4
New Mexico state officials may have broken up another illegal driver's license ring.
Three Eastern-European men are in custody. Authorities said the men admitted to coming to New Mexico because they heard undocumented immigrants could get a driver's license.
The three men are from Poland. At least one allegedly told authorities he lives in Illinois and had no intention of living in New Mexico.
The men are in jail facing felony charges, accused of doing what others have gotten away with in New Mexico: Getting a driver's license without living here.
Kamil Cieszynski, Lukasz Tutak and Piotr Pietrusiak face charges for altered, forged or fictitious license, and for making false affidavit perjury.
Court records show the men applied for a New Mexico drivers license in Albuquerque on November 16.
The men each presented Polish passports, Bank of America accounts and an Albuquerque apartment lease.
The criminal complaint said all three men went to the MVD on Central and San Mateo where undocumented foreign nationals are sent for license applications.
All three men ended up getting a drivers license but raised red flags.
"MVD personnel became suspicious of the documents because of the similarities they're all going to have the same address, no activity, just real common elements we see over and over," said Demesia Padilla, New Mexico Revenue & Taxation Secretary.
Padilla said the men were approved for a license so as to not put clerks at risk; adding they only received temporary licenses.
But agents with the Tax Fraud Unit then stepped in, detained and questioned the men.
"Some of the comments they gave us back was they had come to New Mexico for the sole purpose of obtaining a New Mexico driver's license,” said Padilla. “They had rented an apartment. They never lived there and stayed at a hotel."
The three men are being held on a $5,000 cash or surety bond.
For Padilla, this is just another case that proves New Mexico’s law needs changing.
"The only way we're going to rid ourselves of this cottage industry that happens to be an illegal industry is for us to stop issuing drivers license to immigrants without lawful status," Padilla said.
While Padilla can’t talk about specifics in this ongoing investigation, she said individuals usually don’t act alone.
“It's more than likely there was someobdy there was somebody who had done this arangement for them," she said.
She also said it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if more arrests are made.
But usually what ends up happening is that others involved who have appointments set up at the MVD won’t show up anymore.