Two state driver’s license examiners were sentenced Thursday in federal court in Macon for illegally issuing driver’s licenses, while two others were also sentenced for their parts in the scheme, according to a news release from federal prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson sentenced Kenneth Boyt, 36, of Kathleen, to two years in prison and sentenced Denise Searcy Trower, 41, also of Kathleen, to two years and six months in prison, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.
Also, Lawson sentenced Javeed Bukhari, 49, of Lawrenceville, to nine months in prison, and sentenced Ghanshyam Patel, 41, of Perry, to 30 consecutive days in jail, according to the release. In addition, Bukhari was fined $10,000, and Patel was fined $40,000.
The news release did not include the charges to which each previously pleaded guilty.
As examiners for the Georgia Department of Driver Services, Boyt and Trower were responsible for reviewing driver’s license applications and issuing licenses, the release said.
“Boyt and Trower violated federal law and (Georgia) DDS rules by issuing driver’s licenses to people whom they knew were not qualified to have one — all in exchange for money,” the release said. “For example, both issued licenses to immigrants who were not legally admitted to the United States, and therefore not eligible to receive a Georgia driver’s license.”
According to the release, Bukhari and Patel introduced people who wanted licenses but could not obtain them legally to either Boyt or Trower.
“These applicants would pay money to Bukhari or Patel for an illegal license, and these middlemen would in turn pay Boyt or Trower,” the release said. “Boyt or Trower would then provide the applicant with a valid Georgia driver’s license. Some applicants admitted to paying as much as $6,000 for these illegal licenses.”
According to court records, Trower pleaded guilty March 31 to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion. Records show that Boyt pleaded guilty April 7 to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion; Bukhari plead guilty March 31 to conspiracy to commit identification document fraud; and Patel pleaded guilty March 31 to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion.
According to the indictment, Trower worked in the driver’s license office at 198 Carl Vinson Parkway in Warner Robins and conspired with Patel to get driver’s licenses for people from India who were not legally entitled to have them. That occurred between May 2006 and February 2009. Patel acted as an interpreter for people in the Indian community, the indictment said.
According to a separate Jan. 14, 2010, indictment, Boyt, who also worked at the Carl Vinson Parkway location, conspired with Bukhari from January 2006 to July 2009 to get driver’s licenses for the Indians. The licenses were for people who worked at Bukhari’s business, which was the Dairy Queen at 353 Courtney Hodges Blvd. in Perry, according to the indictment.
The scheme was investigated by agents of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force and other state investigators, according to the release.
“These driver’s license examiners violated the public’s trust and risked endangering our community by selling licenses to the highest bidder,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in the news release. “Official IDs such as driver’s licenses are required to board flights and enter secure buildings. This puts Department of Driver Services employees on the front lines of homeland security as they work to limit such official identification documents to only those who qualify. The rogue examiners and their accomplices in this case did not take this security responsibility seriously.”
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.