|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that two defendants were sentenced today for acting as brokers in a scheme involving a former clerk at the Edison Motor Vehicle Agency to illegally sell New Jersey digital driver’s licenses to unauthorized persons. The clerk and a third broker have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Gustavo Valencia, 70, of Morris, was sentenced to six years in state prison, including two years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morris County. Valencia was about to go on trial on Feb. 25, when he pleaded guilty to both indictments against him, including multiple counts of second-degree conspiracy, official misconduct and computer criminal activity, as well as third-degree tampering with public records or information. Valencia admitted that he brokered illegal sales of driver’s licenses out of both the Edison and the East Orange Motor Vehicle Agencies. He admitted receiving thousands of dollars for his role in the scheme to renew licenses for people without the required six points of identification
Ricardo Jalil, 65, of Dover, was sentenced today to 300 days in jail and two years of probation by Judge Ahto. Jalil pleaded guilty on Feb. 19 to third-degree conspiracy to tamper with public records. He admitted he conspired with his wife, Martha Jalil, and others, including a former clerk at the Edison Motor Vehicle Agency, Lorena J. Escobar, to help renew licenses for people who were in the country illegally and did not have the required six points of identification.
Martha Jalil, 55, of Dover, pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to second-degree conspiracy, admitting that she conspired with Escobar and others to provide driver’s licenses to unauthorized persons in return for cash. Under her plea agreement, the state will recommend that she be sentenced to seven years in state prison. She is scheduled for sentencing on April 12.
“We must shut down the black market for New Jersey driver’s licenses, because we cannot afford to have dangerous drivers, con artists and those who may wish to hurt us obtaining this powerful form of identification through fraud,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “We will continue to catch those who traffic in illicit licenses using the MVC’s cutting-edge Facial Scrub technology and this type of investigation.”
“The message here is clear: people who seek to profit from this type of document fraud will wind up behind bars,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We are building on our working relationship with the MVC to detect and prosecute these crimes.”
The former clerk who conspired in the scheme at the Edison Motor Vehicle Agency, Lorena J. Escobar, 32, of Bound Brook, pleaded guilty on March 24, 2010 to a second-degree charge of conspiracy. The state will recommend that she be sentenced to state prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced on April 12. Her sentencing had been adjourned because she was required to cooperate with the state and was going to testify at Valencia’s trial.
The defendants charged in this case were among 40 people named in indictments unsealed on Dec. 5, 2011, which charged conspiracies to illegally sell driver’s licenses out of the Edison, East Orange, Jersey City, Lodi and North Bergen Motor Vehicle Agencies. Customers paid $2,500 to $7,000 for a license or license renewal, and the MVC clerks and brokers split the proceeds.
Deputy Attorney General Debra Conrad and Deputy Attorney General Krystle Nova prosecuted the defendants in the Edison license ring for the Division of Criminal Justice. The charges stem from joint investigations conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau and the Motor Vehicle Commission’s Division of Security, Investigation and Internal Audit. Detective Nicholas Olenick and Investigator Ruben Contreras handled the investigation of the Edison ring for the Division of Criminal Justice. Deputy Attorney General Paul Salvatoriello presented the Edison indictment to the state grand jury.
Attorney General Chiesa and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has established a toll-free tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The public can also log on to the Division of Criminal Justice webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing. All information received through the Division of Criminal Justice tipline or webpage will remain confidential.