Florida officials arrested seven Floridians accused of posing a risk to Florida’s and the nation’s security by fraudulently obtaining Florida Commercial Driver Licenses.
The investigation is ongoing and authorities believe hundreds of individuals are involved, with additional arrests anticipated in the next few days. Some will also be charged with insurance application fraud.
Between November 2005 and April 2007, civilians who had never been in the military fraudulently obtained a U.S. Department of Defense waiver form. The waiver indicated that the holder had been trained by the U.S. Army to operate heavy vehicles. Some of these individuals, who had never received or completed the required training, used these fraudulently obtained CDLs to obtain either personal or commercial vehicle insurance.
“This scheme posed a risk to our nation’s security and put others on the road in jeopardy because these drivers did not have the training they claimed to have,” said Florida CFO Alex Sink.
Steven Baez, a sergeant with the Army National Guard stationed at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead, sold each waiver form, Operator Qualification Record DA FORM 348-E, for as little as $400 and as much as $1,300.
Baez pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to cause the production of false identification documents and two counts of bribery of a public official and faces up to 15 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 16, before U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke. The arrests are being prosecuted in Miami-Dade County and sentences upon conviction could range from five to 10 years in prison.
Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud, said the arrests follow an investigation by DIF, the U.S. Department of Defense – Defense Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Compliance Office.
Anyone who purchased one of these fraudulent waivers or has additional information is urged to cooperate with the investigation by calling DIF Lt. Bill Santner at 305-536-0355.
The individuals arrested are Gregory Diaz of Miami, Lina Belkis Diaz, Luis Enrique Diaz, Jesus Luis Montesino and Adalberto Ramos all of Miami, and Jacinto Ramos and Jose Fernandez of Homestead
Source: Florida Department of Financial Services
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