|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a former clerk at the Edison Motor Vehicle Agency was sentenced to state prison today, along with a broker who conspired with her in illegal sales of New Jersey digital driver’s licenses to unauthorized persons.
The broker, Martha Jalil, 55, of Dover, was sentenced today to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morris County. Jalil pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to second-degree conspiracy.
The former clerk at the Edison Motor Vehicle Agency, Lorena J. Escobar, 32, of Bound Brook, was sentenced today to three years in prison by Superior Court Judge Stuart A. Minkowitz in Morris County. She pleaded guilty on March 24, 2010 to second-degree conspiracy and provided cooperation in the ongoing investigation. Escobar admitted that she conspired with brokers, including Jalil, to obtain cash from customers in return for providing them with renewed New Jersey digital driver’s licenses. The customers did not have the required six points of identification to obtain a license because they were in the country illegally.
“With illegal driver’s licenses selling for several thousand dollars apiece, there is a significant incentive for criminals to engage in this type of document fraud,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “By putting defendants like these women behind bars, we present a powerful disincentive.”
“In partnership with the MVC, we are cracking down on illegal sales of driver’s licenses and eliminating the security breaches that lead to licenses being fraudulently issued,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through MVC’s new Facial Scrub technology and aggressive investigations targeting license brokers and corrupt clerks, we are sending those responsible for license fraud to prison.”
Two men who were part of the scheme were sentenced last month by Judge Ahto. Gustavo Valencia, 70, of Morris, another broker, was sentenced on March 21 to six years in prison, including two years of parole ineligibility. He was about to go on trial on Feb. 25, when he pleaded guilty to two indictments against him, including multiple counts of conspiracy, official misconduct, computer criminal activity, and tampering with public records or information. He admitted that he brokered illegal sales of driver’s licenses out of both the Edison and the East Orange Motor Vehicle Agencies, receiving thousands of dollars in return.
In addition, Ricardo Jalil, 65, the husband of Martha Jalil, was sentenced by Judge Ahto on March 21 to 300 days in jail and two years of probation. Ricardo Jalil pleaded guilty on Feb. 19 to third-degree conspiracy to tamper with public records. He admitted he conspired with his wife, Escobar and others to help renew licenses for people who were in the country.
An additional broker was sentenced last year. Manuel Puentes, 52, of Dover, was sentenced on Jan. 20, 2012, to three years in state prison.
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, Investigator Ruben Contreras and Analyst Kathleen Ratliff 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.