Facial Recognition Used To Uncover Scheme
Albany, NY (May 9, 2011)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that 46 commercial drivers, including bus drivers, have been arrested in and around New York City for fraudulently obtaining multiple driver licenses using an alias. The arrests, made possible through the state's use of facial recognition technology, were part of the Governor's ongoing crackdown on bus safety that began March 17th.
"With New York's use of facial recognition technology, drivers who obtain multiple licenses under different names now have no place to hide," Governor Cuomo said. "With these new arrests and our continued enforcement actions, the message should be clear: we will not tolerate dangerous buses, drivers, or fraud in obtaining a license. Our state agencies will continue working with law enforcement partners to help ensure New Yorkers can have confidence in the public transportation system. I would like to thank our federal and local law enforcement partners as well as the participating District Attorneys for their professional and cooperative efforts in this endeavor."
The investigation and arrests, using facial recognition technology by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), were conducted by the DMV's Division of Field Investigations, the New York City Police Department Document Fraud Squad, the New York State Division of State Police, the United States Department of State Passport Unit, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Social Security Administration in cooperation with the offices of the District Attorneys in Queens, Kings, Westchester, New York, Rockland, Nassau and Bronx counties.
Among those arrested, several were listed as "active" bus drivers, including four who are employed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). Several of those arrested also had a high number of unanswered traffic tickets and others have open felony warrants, including deportation detainers by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Also, 19 of those arrested have or had licenses to drive taxi cabs.
Barbara J. Fiala, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles said, "I am very proud of our Division of Field Investigation staff for their work in identifying those who have obtained licenses fraudulently and then coordinating with the other agencies involved to remove these drivers from our highways. The actions of the last few days are outstanding examples of how the DMV fulfills its mission to administer the motor vehicle laws and protect consumers."
The DMV began using facial recognition technology in February 2010. Since DMV began using facial recognition, over 3,000 individuals who had two or more different licenses or non-driver identification documents have been identified. Of the 3,000, more than 600 individuals have been arrested on felony charges across the state. In addition, administrative actions have been taken against 1300 individuals to merge and combine records to insure that the individuals are identified by their true identity.
The most recent arrests are in addition to those made on March 24 and 25 when 15 commercial bus drivers were also identified as having falsely obtained Commercial Driver Licenses using aliases. The investigations are continuing.
The DMV has suspended the driving privileges of each defendant pending criminal prosecution. The drivers who obtained their license fraudulently were each charged with Offering a False Instrument in the First Degree and Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree. Those with excessive unpaid tickets were also charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the Second Degree.
Also as part of the bus safety crackdown Governor Cuomo ordered March 17, the New York State Department of Transportation has conducted 1,960 surprise roadside inspections up until this week leading to 173 bus drivers and 143 buses being removed from New York roadways.
During the same time period, State Police issued 197 tickets to bus drivers for moving violations.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said, "While America may be the land of second chances, that doesn't mean you get a second identity. Many of the individuals arrested today obtained multiple driver licenses in order to collect benefits, and even worse, to conceal violent criminal histories. I commend the NYPD's Document Fraud Squad, along with State and Federal investigators for their good work."
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, "Driving is a privilege extended to those who can prove they can do so without compromising public safety. By allegedly failing to be totally truthful with state authorities or their employers, the defendants jeopardized the transportation safety of other drivers and passengers on the road. I want to thank Governor Cuomo and the state Department of Motor Vehicles for their swift action in protecting the riding public."
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said, "Driving is a privilege, not a right, and state licensing is an important safeguard against unsafe, and ill-trained drivers causing accidents on our streets and highways. I applaud Gov. Cuomo's efforts to crack down on these abuses, and my office will prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law."
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said, "Those who obtain multiple drivers' licenses are hiding from something, whether it is a dangerous driving history, criminal record, or something worse. I applaud the DMV's innovative use of facial-recognition technology as a valuable tool that will help make New York's roads, buses and taxis safer."
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said, "Operators of vehicles requiring a commercial driver's license, such as bus drivers, who on a daily basis transport people on public roadways, are no different from airline pilots or train engineers. The use of a fake, fraudulent or suspended license, or the use of an alias to obtain a license, is a direct indication that the vehicle's operator and possibly the bus company owner or employer is compromising the integrity and safety of our transportation system that both the Governor and Department of Motor Vehicles are actively trying to protect."
Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson said, "The operation of a commercial vehicle is a significant responsibility that can result in many deaths if unqualified operators take to the roads. Therefore, the Bronx District Attorney's Office will prosecute any individual who has applied for and received multiple CDL's in violation of the law."
Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe said, "The DMV's use of new facial recognition technology has quickly become an effective tool in identifying fraud cases. Individuals who obtain driver's licenses under false pretenses jeopardize everyone's safety. My office will continue to aggressively prosecute those offenders who abuse the system though blatant dishonesty. I commend the staff of the state Department of Motor Vehicles office in West Haverstraw in their efforts to slam the brakes on DMV scofflaws with multiple licenses."
Director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) John Morton said, "We are pleased to be part of this joint investigation that targeted individuals who put the public's safety at risk by fraudulently obtaining commercial driver licenses, which permitted them to drive tractor trailers, transport hazardous cargo or gain access to secure port and key transportation facilities.ICE is committed to assisting our law enforcement partners in identifying individuals who commit this kind of fraud and endanger the public in the process."
Special Agent in Charge Edward J. Ryan, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations, Social Security Administration stated, "This cooperative investigation with our law enforcement partners demonstrates the seriousness with which we respond to allegations of fraud, Social Security number misuse and identity theft against our agencies. SSA/OIG is not only committed to protecting the Social Security funds but also the integrity of the SSN itself. The NYS DMV Facial Recognition Program is one pathway in the identification of individuals who by means of deceit, attempt to conceal their true identity to obtain government identification in a 'new' identity, particularly if public safety is at risk. We are pleased with the success of these efforts."
Thomas F. Prendergast, President MTA New York City Transit, said, "We are continuing to work closely with the Department of Motor Vehicles and law enforcement officials as they crack down on the use of fraudulently obtained driver's licenses. We are benefitting from the technology they have in place to detect this willful evasion of the extensive background checks performed on all MTA employees."
On Saturday, March 12, 2011 a bus traveling from Connecticut carrying 32 passengers crashed on the Westchester county/Bronx border, killing 15 passengers. New York State Police and the National Transportation Safety Board continue with the investigation. Only days later, on Monday, March 14, another bus traveling from New York City en route to Philadelphia crashed in New Jersey, killing the driver and a passenger.
All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven otherwise in court.
The MTA employees arrested were:
• Wilfredo Alicea (aka Wilfredo Gonzalez) Depew Street, Peekskill
• Miguel Rivera (aka Bernard Owens) Claremont Place, Mount Vernon (Manhattan and Bronx bus lines)
• Charles Daniels (aka Charles Richardson) Sproat Street, Middletown
• Maxime Leroy (aka Leroy Maxime) South Drive, Baldwin (bus mechanic)
The commercial bus drivers arrested were:
• Looknaught Basil (aka Looknaught Lakeram) 176 Street, Jamaica, Lovedal Ambulette Inc.
• Sultan Pasha (aka Mohammad Din) Rockaway Boulevard, Jamaica, All County Express Shuttle
• Robin Pierre-Fils (aka Robain Pierre) Newkirk Ave., Brooklyn, Tufaro Transit Co, Inc.
• Isaac Reid (aka Delroy Johnson) Beach 69th Street, Arverne, Super Shuttle New York
• Louisson Paul (aka Luckner Inois) Crooke Avenue, Brooklyn,3rd Avenue Transportation Company
• Eddy Amilcar (aka John Merisier) 21 Street, Brooklyn, Hoyt Transportation
The other commercial drivers arrested were:
• Hector Aquino (aka Carlos Nazario) Logan Street, Brooklyn
• Benedick Louis (aka Benedick Gabriel) Kinkel Street, Westbury
• Ricardo Colon-Castro (aka Wellington Espinal) Church Street, New Rochelle
• Osvaldo Cortes (aka Osvaldo Cortes) Dodworth Street, Brooklyn
• A Cortes-Mendez (aka Jesus Perez) Stratford Street, Bronx
• Edwin Diaz (aka Edwin Diaz) East 187th Street, Bronx
• Michael Donaldson (aka Michael Donaldson) 141 Street, Jamaica
• Eltayeb Elmosbah (aka Eltayeb Elmusbah) King Highway, Brooklyn
• Wayne Evans (aka Wayne Bailey) Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn
• Terrance Glasgow (aka Terrance Glasgow) Townhouse Drive, Coram
• Bobby Huda (aka Shalim Ahmed) Glenmore Avenue, Brooklyn
• Shahumad Latif (aka Stanley Foster) Harmon Street, White Plains
• Frederick Manzola (aka Freddo Manzola) 53 Street, Brooklyn
• Kevin McKie (aka Trevor Small) Memphis Ave, Floral Park
• Isis Moreno (aka Raul Mena) Beekman Avenue, Sleepy Hollow
• Vincent Moreno (aka Anthony Rojas) Brooklyn
• Jordan Oku (aka Jerry Oku) 57 Avenue, Corona
• Rosario Paul (aka Louis Rosario) Hawthorne Street, Brooklyn
• Antonio Polanco (aka Ciriaco Polamco) Mohegan Avenue, Bronx
• Juan Ramierez (aka Juan Ramirez) East 173 Street, Bronx
• Bruce Reid (aka Steven Archeval) 75 Street, Ozone Park
• Rafael Rodriguez (aka Rafael Vazquez) Bathgate Avenue, Bronx
• Issaka Saibou (aka Issaka Halirou) Creston Avenue, Bronx
• Rajinder Singh (aka Rajinder Singh) 225 Street, Floral Park
• Tajinder Singh (aka Tejinder Singh) Union Road, Spring Valley
• Antonio Spencer (aka Solomon Johnson) Monticello Avenue, Bronx
• Larry Stewart (aka Lawrence Stewart) Elder Avenue, Bronx
• Francisco Toribio (aka Tommy Figueroa) State Route 52, Walden
• James Williams (aka James Williams) 120th Avenue, St. Albans
• Erickson Zapata (aka Luis Ocasio) Botanical Square, Bronx
• Loordelgado Blas (aka Blas Loor) Wadsworth Avenue, New York City
• Glen Edmonds (aka Roger Joseph) 153rd Street, Kew Gardens
• Chika Ihim (aka Elvis Ibeh) Beach Channel Drive, Far Rockaway
• Kevin Curry (aka Haraco Cox) 137 Avenue, Jamaica
• Kirk Oglive (aka Marlon Ogilivie) Harrison Avenue, Hempstead
• Francisco Correa (aka Francisco Ciprian) West Broadway, Long Beach