A high-tech facial recognition program that "scrubbed" 19 million New Jersey driver's licenses turned up 600 potential criminal cases, of which more than three dozen have already led to prosecutions.
Among those snagged by "Operation Facial Scrub" are 50-year-old Raymond Pompey of Hackensack, who obtained a license to drive a commercial bus in the name of a dead man, Edward Rivers, after his license was suspended six times for traffic infractions and failing to appear in court, state authorities said.
Pompey, who was indicted by a state grand jury yesterday, also has a felony record for identity theft, fraud and forgery.
Those already prosecuted also include other "truck and bus drivers who have no business being on our roadways and registered sex offenders who tried to hide their criminal pasts,” said Stephen J. Taylor, director of the state Division of Criminal Justice.
So far, "Operation Scrub" has led to indictments or criminal complaints against five sex offenders and 29 people who obtained fraudulent licenses after their real licenses had been suspended -- including 22 charged with DUI offenses, half or whom have three or more.
Eight of the cases involve the use of false identities to obtain commercial driver’s licenses to drive trucks or buses. The cases also include several defendants who owed child support or were ineligible for a New Jersey driver's license.
Among those caught:
Christian Huertas, 39, of Garfield, a registered sex offender who pleaded guilty on Nov. 26 to tampering with public records and failing to register under Megan’s Law;
Carmine L. Lubrano Jr., 61, of Ridgefield Park, who was indicted last November for using someone else's personal ID to get a driver's license after a DUI conviction forced the suspension of his license;
Girard Nichirco, 51, of Lyndhurst, who had three DUIs when he allegedly used another person's identification information to obtain a license (He was indicted in December);
Ramon Hazell, 63, of Englewood, who also has three DUIs, state authorities said. He, too, was indicted last month on charges of using personal identifying information of another and tampering with public records.
“A driver’s license is a powerful document that enables the holder to open financial accounts, obtain and drive motor vehicles, and board airplanes,” state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.
“We know the 9/11 terrorists had fraudulent licenses from other states," Chiesa added. "By detecting individuals who have false licenses, law enforcement can potentially uncover other types of crime that these individuals may be involved in, including identity theft, financial fraud and even terrorism.”
Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez added that the security tool “really provides us with that extra edge to thoroughly comb through our records and identify everything from simple record errors to more egregious acts of fraud.”
State authorities said the roundup has produced:
20 to 40 potential unemployment fraud cases under investigation by the New Jersey Department of Labor,
23 potential benefit fraud cases under investigation by the New Jersey Department of Human Services,
3 potential cases of Medicaid fraud under investigation by the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller,
8 non-compliant Megan’s Law registrants referred to the State Parole Board for parole violations,
8 fraudulent Passports identified by the U.S. Department of State - Diplomatic Security Service,
5 criminal arrests by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and
4 criminal fraud suspects identified by the U.S. Social Security Administration in connection with over $200,000 in suspected fraud. READ MORE....