By Desiree Taylor
Seventeen people from six states, including New Jersey, have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a scheme to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses for undocumented individuals and other ineligible people. Federal officials announced details of the criminal operation during a press conference in Newark. “Today’s charged conspiracy included brokers across the country who recruited and served customers looking for a valid driver’s license to legitimize their illegal presence in the U.S., said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
Of the 22 people charged in the operation, including eight from New Jersey, is a contract employee of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services who is accused of stealing and providing forms used to aid in the scheme. But authorities say the alleged leader of the criminal operation was Young-Kyu Park, a Los Angeles resident who previously lived in Fort Lee. Much of Park Criminal Enterprise was run from three offices located in Fort Lee, Palisades Park and Las Vegas, Nevada. Federal officials say members of the operation acquired, created and counterfeited a variety of documents including passports, I-797 forms used by federal government officials, utility bills and bank statements. Many of these documents are needed to establish residency requirements for a valid driver’s license. In return, the customers, many of whom are Korean, paid Park Criminal Enterprise fees as high as $4,500.
Federal officials describe this operation as a sophisticated scheme that used advanced computer software to create false identity documents. “In doing so, they were able to circumvent established safeguards and proper vetting put in place post September 11,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward. He added that the exploitation of this vulnerability is significant because identity type frauds are a gateway to other crimes.
The criminal complaint also accuses members of Park Criminal Enterprise, including Young-Kyu Park’s wife and daughter, of laundering the proceeds of the illegal operation to conceal the scheme. Authorities say a cooperating witness played a significant role in this investigation which began in 2010.