Martinsburg, W. Va. police have charged Barbara Lynn Gonzalez with making fake insurance cards and selling them to Hispanic residents, according to court records.
Gonzalez has been charged with two felony counts of false affidavits in connection with the case, which police have been investigating for months.
West Virginia State Police Trooper Nathan Harmon launched an investigation May 22 after a confidential informant provided detailed information about the alleged activities. The informant said the fake insurance cards, made using home computer equipment and a typewriter, were sold for $400 to $600 each and that Gonzalez would go to the Division of Motor Vehicles office in Martinsburg the following day to obtain license plates using the cards.
May 23, Harmon sat at the back of the DMV and saw Gonzalez and her daughter inside. Harmon alleges he saw Gonzalez exchange paperwork with a DMV employee and receive two license plates in return, according to a four-page criminal complaint filed by Harmon.
Harmon, who already knew that Gonzalez’s driver’s license had been suspended, pulled Gonzalez’s Ford pickup truck over outside of the DMV because the license plate on the pickup truck was obscured. He was given permission to search the truck and also searched Gonzalez’s home.
At the home, officers seized several items, including computer printers and scanners, a hard drive, CDs for a computer and a typewriter ribbon that Gonzalez had tried to conceal from police.
Police also found 55 insurance cards from three different insurance companies, five West Virginia registration cards bearing Hispanic names, five West Virginia vehicle titles, 12 vehicle titles bearing Hispanic names, 58 DMV applications for a certificate of title and six pink DMV affidavits of a duplicate title.
Gonzalez told police that she goes to the DMV just about every day and said “she has done over 30 insurance cards, titles, and tags for various Hispanics.”
Gonzalez said Hispanics would come to her house with a vehicle title and pay $50 for a fake insurance card. She told police she would fill out a DMV application for a certificate of title for a motor vehicle, go to the DMV and give the paperwork to a specific employee. She would receive a valid title, registration card and license plate.
An employee of one of the insurance agencies whose cards were used, Mid-Atlantic Group, said complaints had been filed concerning wrecks and fake insurance policy numbers. All of the fake policy numbers began with the letters “NCA,” the employee said.
“Harmon noted that every single insurance card seized from the defendant’s residence, including DMV forms the defendant had filled out, began with the letters ‘NCA,’ confirming that the policy numbers and insurance information the defendant provided (to the) DMV on every application so as to receive tags, titles and registrations were fake.”
An insurance company employee said that complaints started in October 2004, and that so many had been received that she filed a report with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department.
Gonzalez is being held in Eastern Regional Jail on $50,000 bail. Conviction on a charge of false affidavit carries a sentence of one to 10 years in prison.
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