Third-party driver's license worker struck deal for licenses

| 3/9/2007

Three participants in a fraudulent driver's license scheme in Washington have been sentenced only days after the state announced plans to overhaul its license testing procedures.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Wednesday, March 8, that three Washington residents conspired to arrange for a driver's license scheme by which Brazilian nationals would pay $2,000 each to Mauro Martins in order to obtain Washington driver's licenses.

Mauro Martins, a citizen of Brazil, was given a plea agreement in November 2006 and was sentenced to serve six months in jail and three years of probation by U.S. District Judge James Robart. In the plea deal, Martins pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. The Post-Intelligencer reported that Martins will be deported rather than complete the sentence.

Martins worked with Zagari Shunta Moore, 37, an employee of the Washington Licensing Department, to issue fraudulent driver's licenses to Brazilians who didn't live in Washington, the Post-Intelligencer stated. Washington state doesn't require driver's license applicants to prove their legal residency in the United States.

Prosecutors said Martins flew Brazilians to Seattle from the East Coast to obtain driver's licenses from Moore. An investigation led to indictments last September by a federal grand jury.

 On Monday, Land Line reported that Washington was changing its licensing procedures after audits of the state's licensing department showed that some employees were approving licenses faster than they could have tested applicants.

A spokesman for the state department told Land Line on Monday that Washington also was changing its testing format prevent applicants from knowing which test administrators would test them.

The FBI and Homeland Security Department are investigating the actions of some employees who the state believes had made prior contact with applicants, said Brad Benfield, a spokesman for the Washington Licensing Department.

State officials believe as many as 651 CDL applicants may have used false addresses, Benfield said.

The Post-Intelligencer reported that Moore was fired and will be sentenced this month, along with two others who helped him.

Jackson Ronaldo Da Conceicao, of Boston, is reportedly fighting extradition after being sentenced to serve 155 days in jail.

Martins' wife, Sonia Regina Hoffman, will serve six months of house arrest and three years of probation for her role in the scheme.

- By Charlie Morasch, staff writer