Second Former D.C. DMV Employee Sentenced in Car Registration Scam

February 10, 2006

A second former D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) clerk, Toni A. Mahoney, has been sentenced to three months in jail and three months of home confinement for her role in a scheme wherein she and others reportedly accepted bribe money to provide registrations and titles for automobiles which she knew could not otherwise have received such documentation, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Wainstein, Joseph Persichini, Jr., Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, D.C. Inspector General Charles Willoughby, and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles Ramsey.

Mahoney, 52, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty on April 20, 2005, to receipt of a bribe by a public official. She was sentenced by United States District Judge Richard Roberts. Mahoney’s co-worker, Kyra T. Walker, 27, with whom she was engaged in the bribery scheme, also pled guilty to bribery and was sentenced by Judge Roberts on Jan. 30, 2006, to 12 months in jail.

As part of her plea, Mahoney reportedly acknowledged that, beginning in October 2003 through the Spring of 2004, while employed as a DMV clerk, Mahoney accepted bribes to produce titles and registrations for motor vehicles and to assist others working at the DMV to do the same. Mahoney agreed to produce the titles and registrations although she knew the vehicles were not insured, did not have the appropriate paperwork attesting to prior ownership, lacked insurance, or had other problems associated with them.

Mahoney told law enforcement that she saw these bribe payments as “easy money.” In some cases, Mahoney worked with other employees at the DMV, accepting bribe payments and applications from her coworkers that had already been filled out with the VIN numbers, addresses and drivers’ license numbers of the people under whose names the title would be listed.

Mahoney reportedly placed the information into the DMV computer system and was paid later in the day once the titles or vehicle registrations had been produced. Money orders were given to Mahoney to avoid the need for the customers to visit the cashiers who would ask for the documentation required for each transaction – DMV cashiers are the only employees authorized to take cash payments.

The individuals returned to pick up the titles or vehicle registration plates. Many of the titles were mailed to the customer based on the address found on the application. Some of the same addresses were used on many different title applications. Once the transaction was completed, the initial paperwork was discarded.

The bribe amounts Mahoney accepted varied, but frequently were $300 or more per transaction. Most of the vehicles for which Mahoney processed transactions were newer models and the subsequent investigation in this matter showed that a number of the vehicles had previously been stolen from the true owner.

Mahoney also admitted to accepting bribes from “runners” working with car dealers who did not want to take vehicles through inspections, which they knew they would not pass. Additionally, dealers brought her paperwork for salvaged vehicles, in order to receive “clean” District of Columbia titles, that is, titles without reference to any problems with the vehicles.

By obtaining a “clean” title, the dealers were able to sell the vehicles for more money. Typically, the dealers would provide Mahoney applications for the vehicles, but would not provide other necessary documentation, including proof of insurance.

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