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Press Release | NO. 2004-006

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Press Release # 006
Thursday, January 15, 2004

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, David N. Kelley, The United States Attorney For The Southern District Of New York, Pasquale D'amuro, The Assistant Director In Charge Of The New York Office Of The Fbi And Jill Konviser-Levine, The State Inspector General, Announce Eight Arrests In The Takedown Of Fraudulent Documentation Ring

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, David N. Kelley, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Pasquale D'Amuro, the Assistant Director of the New York Office of the
FBI and Jill Konviser-Levine, the State Inspector General, today announced eight arrests as part of the takedown of an organization selling falsified documentation to obtain authentic identification. The
arrests include several current and former employees of the Department of Motor Vehicles as well as individuals who worked as brokers or facilitators. The arrests mark the culmination of "Operation Pango,"
a seven-month undercover investigation into the illegal acquisition of identification. Those arrested are charged with illegally obtaining fraudulent documents.

Police Commissioner Kelly said: "Once again, our undercover investigators have done outstanding work in infiltrating and ultimately dismantling a cunning criminal operation. The people we arrested worked together to supply illegally obtained documentation to assorted individuals for the purpose of securing false identification. These arrests are particularly valuable because this is a crime that leads to a host of other criminality. Falsified identification can spawn anything from credit card fraud and identity theft to immigration violations."

"Operation Pango" began in July 2003. Detectives in the Organized Crime Control Bureau established connection with brokers who had ties to DMV employees. Initially, the detectives arranged the purchase of phony documentation, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards, through the intermediaries. Eventually, the undercover officers, using the falsified documentation, obtained legitimate identification directly from the DMV insiders. The illegally obtained documents came in the form of driver's licenses, driving permits and non-driver identification cards.

During the course of the investigation, officers participated in eight buys orchestrated by different brokers. An individual broker in the ring could make over $50,000 a week. The brokers maintained connections with employees in two Manhattan DMV offices and one in Westchester.

Eight federal arrest warrants were served in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester. Of those arrested, five were current or former employees of the Department of Motor Vehicles and three others were
intermediaries. A civilian member of the New York City Police Department, Terry Keys, who worked as an operator, was among those apprehended. The others are Felicia Smalls, Darrell Fordham, Quicha Williams Kinlock, Syreeta Edwards, Edward Mendez, Carlos Polonco and Angel Lebron.

Three additional suspects are currently being sought. The three are Pakistani nationals being pursued by the Joint Terrorism Task Force. At this point in the investigation, there is no indication that this is a terrorist-sponsored activity. These individuals are Faisal Mehmood, Usman Safdar and Faisal Iqbal. Their photos are available at DCPI.

Additional warrants will be served later today including two search warrants which are expected to net documentation of the alleged crimes and financial information.

This investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.

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