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(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced his office and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have broken a huge counterfeit driver's license operation believed responsible for producing fake I.D.'s that were distributed in California, 40 others states and the District of Columbia. The investigation is believed to be among the largest involving driver's license fraud in DMV's history.
"These fake I.D.s predominantly were used by underaged college students who wanted to get into bars and buy alcohol," Lockyer said. "This sophisticated operation, which provided the tools to manufacture fake driver's licenses throughout the county, not only contributed to the widespread problem of underage drinking. During these times of increased concern about financial privacy, I.D. theft and terrorism, this ring greatly enhanced the opportunity for criminals to establish fake identifications to commit fraud and acts of terrorism."
In his criminal complaint, the Attorney General charged Jason Andrew Miller, 21, of Tempe, Arizona, with producing hundreds of counterfeited driver's license laminates bearing the California DMV and California State seals and, in some cases, the magnetic strips. Miller also is accused of selling those laminates to individuals who used them to manufacture fake driver's licenses. Miller is alleged to have charged $5.25 per laminate, 75 cents to generically encode each magnetic strip, and $2 for specific encoding of the magnetic strip.
The investigation conducted by the Attorney General and the DMV showed that Menux Inc., a company owed and operated by Miller, also manufactured counterfeited laminates consistent with the state of Texas, and offered for sale on his website laminates consistent with the states of Arizona, Oregon, Michigan and New Jersey. The company operated over the Internet and shipped products using United Parcel Service to addresses in 41 states and the District of Columbia.
Miller will surrender himself on Wednesday, August 13, 2003, at 10:30 in Department 8 of the Sacramento County Superior Court. Judge Gary E. Ransom has set his bail at $250,000.
The Sacramento Valley High Technology Crimes Task Force, composed of members of the Attorney General's Office and the Sacramento Sheriff's Office, assisted in serving search warrants in Sacramento and Davis. Other high tech task forces throughout the state passed on information to local law enforcement agencies for possible actions regarding individuals identified in the investigation throughout the state.
The investigation already has led to other arrests. Three University of California, Davis, students were arrested on April 1, 2003: Daniel Paul Aleksander, Joseph Aaronelijah Stewart and Nicholas William Blasgen. The cases, which will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office, accuse the defendants of receiving the laminates from Menux and using them to manufacture counterfeit California driver's licenses.
The investigation has already resulted in the arrest and convictions of Jason Richardson, 20, of Elk Grove. Richardson pled guilty to one count of forgery related to the production and sale of counterfeited driver's license laminates bearing the California DMV and California State seals. He was sentenced on April 1 to 150 days in county jail and five years of formal probation.
Rouben Kirakossian, 32, pled guilty to possession of Menux material while committing the crime of identify theft. He was sentenced on July 18, 2003, in Placer County, to 150 days in county jail and three years of formal probation.
Shipping records obtained during the investigation show that Miller, doing business as Menux, sent 857 packages to various addresses throughout the United States, including 261 in California. In California, the packages were sent to residences in Albany, Aliso Viejo, Aptos, Atascadero, Bakersfield, Bay Point, Beverly Hills, Buena Park, Burbank, Carlsbad, Carson, Chico, Chula Vista, Concord, Coto de Caza, Danville, Davis, Del Mar, Dove Canyon, El Cajon, El Sobrante, Elk Grove and Encinitas.
Packages also were sent to residences in Foster City, Goleta, Granada Hills, Hayward, Irvine, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Los Gatos, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Menifee, Mission Viejo, Modesto, Montclair, Mountain View, North Hollywood, Oakland, Oxnard, Pacific Palisades, Panorama City, Pasadena, Pittsburgh, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rancho Santa Fe, Redlands, Rodeo, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, San Mateo, San Pedro, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, Simi Valley, South Lake Tahoe, Stockton, Sunnyvale, Tustin, Vallejo, Walnut Creek, Westlake Village and Willits.
The investigation continues and more arrests are expected.