DPS workers convicted of driver's license scam
The Federal Bureau Investigation Houston Division reported that two now-former Texas Department of Public Safety workers were convicted of conspiring to sell Texas driver's licenses.
United States Attorney Jose Angel Moreno reported that 39-year-old DPS Trooper Mark DeArza, and 37-year-old DPS clerk Lidia Gutierrez were convicted after pleading guilty to the charge before United States District Judge Gray Miller.
DeArza and Gutierrez were employed at the DPS office located across from Ellington Field and admitted to having conspired together and with others with selling drivers licenses to unauthorized persons on May 14, 2010 and again on July 26, 2010.
According to a public record of the case, the FBI learned through a confidential source that the operator of a Conoco station located on Almeda-Genoa Street in Houston was allegedly selling Texas driver's licenses for a fee. On two separate occasions, first on May 14, 2010, then again on July 26, the CS met with the operator of the gasoline station and allegedly paid him $3,000 for assistance in obtaining a Texas driver's license and $3,500 for assistance with obtaining a commercial driver's license for a friend.
The CS was referred to and met with DeArza at the DPS office on May 17, 2010, and with his assistance and that of Gutierrez, obtained a Texas driver's license. In the second instance, the CS allegedly paid $3,500 for the arrangements to be made with DeArza and Gutierrez to obtain this driver's license as well. On July 26, 2010, at the gasoline station, the CS received a temporary driver's license personally delivered by DeArza. The CS later received both Texas driver's licenses by United States mail.
DeArza and Gutierrrez were charged by indictment in August 2010 along with Maen Bittar, 46, the operator of a gasoline station on Almeda-Genoa St. in Houston, who allegedly acted as a middleman in the conspiracy. Bittar is pending trial later this month.
Each now face a maximum of 15 years imprisonment to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release as well as a possible maximum fine of $250,000.
Sentencing for both DeArza and Gutierrez will be on Jan. 7, 2011. Both have been permitted to remain on bond pending their respective sentencing hearings.
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