NEWARK– Charges against 22 individuals were unsealed Wednesday and arrests were made in six states in connection with an alleged scheme to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses for illegal aliens and other ineligible individuals, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman and FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward announced.
Federal agents have made 17 arrests in New Jersey, New York, California, Nevada, Virginia, and Georgia – including a contract employee of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) charged with stealing and providing forms used to aid in the scheme. The charged criminal operation allegedly provided a suite of unlawful services to individuals illegally residing in the United States, including fraudulently obtaining driver’s licenses, and investor and student visas.
“Today’s charged conspiracy included brokers across the country who recruited and served customers looking for a valid driver’s license to legitimize their illegal presence in the United States,” said Fishman. “By allegedly shepherding illegal aliens through the application process and providing them with counterfeit documentation, the defendants enabled their customers to gain access to all the credibility that a driver’s license affords. Strong immigration enforcement includes guarding against those who subvert the safeguards designed to keep us secure.”
“By gaining access to protected, blank government immigration forms, the subjects in this case were able to utilize sophisticated computer software to create false identity documents and subsequently move to receive legitimate driver’s licenses,” said Ward. “In doing so, they were able to circumvent established safeguards and proper vetting put into place post 9/11. The exploitation of this vulnerability is significant because identity-type frauds are a gateway crime. Seldom are they the end game. Individuals with falsely obtained identities are more likely to commit financial frauds, walk away from legal obligations, and are more difficult for law enforcement to identify and investigate.”
According to the complaints unsealed today: Young-Kyu Park, formerly a resident of Fort Lee and currently a resident of Los Angeles, was the leader of an alleged criminal enterprise operating in Palisades Park and Fort Lee as well as in other states.
The enterprise allegedly used illegal means to obtain driver’s licenses genuinely issued by New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Nevada, and elsewhere. It allegedly acquired, created, and counterfeited a variety of documents for sale to customers. Members of alleged criminal enterprise are accused of escorting customers to various state motor vehicle agencies and coaching them through the process of obtaining the licenses. In return, customers each allegedly paid a fee of approximately $3,000 to $4,500 for the unlawful services.
Young-Kyu Park is accused of fraudulently obtaining, completing and selling genuine I-797 forms for customers to use to get licenses. An I-797 form is used by the federal government – including USCIS, a division of the Department of Homeland Security – to communicate with others or convey an immigration benefit. State agencies that issue driver’s licenses rely on these forms to verify the authenticity of an applicant’s foreign passport and to verify the applicant’s lawful presence in the United States. One version of this form can be used to show eligibility for in-state college tuition.
The enterprise also allegedly altered and counterfeited other immigration documents, including passports, and created and provided fictitious documents to customers – such as fictitious utility bills and bank statements used to establish residency requirements. Young-Kyu Park and his co-conspirators also allegedly fraudulently extended expired Korean passports of individuals without legal status in the United States so they could obtain driver’s licenses. These illegal services were, at times, allegedly advertised in Korean newspapers and online with headings such as, “New Jersey Driver’s License.”
Young-Kyu Park allegedly obtained blank I-797 forms from Karine Michmichian and Martin Trejo, a USCIS contract employee working at the USCIS’ Western Forms Center in Montclair, Calif. – the United States’ largest warehouse storage facility for these forms. At various times, Young-Kyu Park allegedly ordered the forms from Michmichian, who contacted Trejo.
The enterprise allegedly maintained a network of co-conspirators in New Jersey, Nevada, Georgia, and Virginia that met with customers. Some members, including Young-Kyu Park’s wife, Soong-Young Park, and his daughter, Hanna Park, allegedly laundered the proceeds to distribute them and conceal the scheme.
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