DENVER – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Bill Leone, United States Attorney for the District of Colorado, and Kenneth Mead, Inspector General for United States Department of Transportation, announced that JANET J. GONZALEZ, age 35, of Thornton, Colorado, was sentenced today to serve 2 years (24 months) in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Walker D. Miller for her role in illegally selling Colorado driver’s licenses, commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs), and other identification documents.
On July 7, 2005 GONZALEZ pled guilty to two counts of Fraud in Connection with Identification Documents and one count of use of interstate facilities and mail in aid of racketeering activity (i.e. bribery). She had previously been indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver for that conduct.
GONZALEZ along with VIRGINIA VILLEGAS, age 48, of Denver, JUAN PABLO BELTRAN, age 39, of Aurora, and JUAN FRANCISCO ALDERETE-DIAZ, age 38, of Thornton, were arrested, indicted, and pled guilty to various charges relating to the illegal sell of selling Colorado driver licenses, including CDLs. VILLEGAS was sentenced to serve 18 months by U.S. District Court Judge Edward W. Nottingham. BELTRAN was sentenced to time already served, and ALDERETE-DIAZ was sentenced to probation.
GONZALEZ and VILLEGAS worked as Driver License Examiners for the Colorado Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles (CO-DMV). BELTRAN acted as a middleman for GONZALEZ and ALDERETE-DIAZ acted as a middleman for VILLEGAS, locating individuals seeking to buy Colorado driver’s licenses, and collecting as much as $2,400 per license. The investigation, which continues as to other offenses and offenders, began after a confidential informant notified law enforcement that CDLs and driver licenses could be obtained illegally from DMV clerks.
Issuance of CDLs is governed by federal law and regulations administered by the Colorado Department of Revenue, and audited by regulators with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation.
To lawfully receive a CDL, applicants must pass commercial vehicle driving skills tests, a truck operation and safety test, and a medical examination with certification by a licensed physician that the driver is physically able to safely operate commercial vehicles. Before a CDL may be issued, applicants must present to the Department of Revenue certificates that they have passed all tests.
“The integrity of the CDL program is critical for ensuring safety on our nation’s highways. This is why we have identified CDL fraud as one of the top management challenges facing the U.S. Department of Transportation” said, Kenneth M. Mead, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Over the past 5 years, we have investigated CDL fraud schemes in 21 states and have found more than 8,000 CDLs issued to drivers who obtained their CDLs through corrupt state or state-approved testing processes.
The case was investigated by the United States Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Investigations Division. The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William Taylor and Joseph Mackey.