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High-tech ‘scrub’ of NJ driver’s licenses turns up felons, others

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: 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 his dead cousin, Edward Rivers, after his license was suspended six times for traffic infractions and failing to appear in court, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.

Pompey, who was indicted by a state grand jury yesterday, also has a felony record for identity theft, fraud and forgery.

Raymond Pompey

Records show he was involved in a series of alleged frauds at DMVs and Social Security offices in New York State in which authorities said he tried to collect his dead cousin’s Social Security disability payments, as well as a driver’s license, records show.

This was after he already obtained a Maryland driver’s license in his cousin’s name.

Rivers, who was from Maryland, died in November 2010, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.

Pompey is being held on a combined $110,000 bail, with detainers that prohibit his release. He was arrested and charged earlier this month by Hackensack and Lodi police with a host of wrongful impersonation-related charges, records show.

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 Hazel l, 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.

(The full list is below.)

“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.

Some of the charges against the defendants carry prison sentences of five to 10 years fines of up to $150,000.

Chiesa said these are just “the first wave” from the 669 potential cases referred by the MVC to the Division of Criminal Justice.

“These cases will be the subject of further investigations and potential prosecutions by the Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Police and the 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices,” he said.

“Local police departments may also be asked to assist in the investigations.”


DEFENDANTS CHARGED BY DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

AS A RESULT OF OPERATION FACIAL SCRUB

(CDL = Commercial Driver’s License. Suspension = Suspension of Driver’s License)

  1. Rickie Storie , 58, of Old Bridge. Three CDLs (2 in false names), 64 suspensions, 6 DUIs. Indicted Feb. 11, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  2. Raymond Pompey , 50, of Hackensack. CDL for bus with 16 or more passengers, 6 suspensions. Indicted Feb. 11, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  3. Anthony E. Smith , 53, of Camden. CDL for tanker, registered sex offender, 5 DUIs. Arrested July 26, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  4. Hiram Maldonado , 57, of Elizabeth. CDL, alleged sex offender, 3 DUIs. Indicted Nov. 30, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  5. Luis Vazquez , 47, of Galloway. Failure to pay child support, inadequate documentation for license. Indicted Nov. 15, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  6. Juan Nieves , 34, of Edison. CDL permits, several suspensions, including a DUI. Indicted Nov. 30, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  7. Merle Whipple , 78, of Hillside. Several suspensions. Indicted Nov. 30, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  8. Chester Rivera , 48, of Rahway. Suspended. Indicted Nov. 30, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  9. Edwin Muniz , 46, of Vineland. DUI. Indicted Nov. 30, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  10. Patrick Falcetano , 57, of Somerset. Multiple suspensions including 3 DUIs, 4 driving while suspended violations. Indicted Nov. 30, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  11. Raymond Feeney , 51, of Trenton. Four DUIs. Indicted Oct. 10, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  12. Christian Huertas , 39, of Garfield. Registered sex offender. Pleaded guilty on Nov. 26, 2012 to tampering with public records (3 rd degree) and failure to register under Megan’s Law (4 th degree).
  13. Andrew D. Zellman Jr. , 47, of Jackson. Registered sex offender, 7 DUIs. Arrested Sept. 13, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  14. Matthew Llabres , 55, of Frenchtown. Three suspensions. Indicted on Jan. 14, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  15. Jorge Trujillo , 50, of Morristown. CDL. Indicted on Nov. 30, 2012. Four counts each of using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree) and tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  16. Angel Santiago , 55, of Millville. Five DUIs. Indicted on Nov. 30, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  17. Flor Torres , 60, Blackwood. Two DUIs. Indicted on Feb. 1, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  18. Eddie Lee Jordan Jr. , 44, of Carle Place, N.Y. DUI. Indicted on Dec. 6, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  19. Carmine L. Lubrano Jr. , 61, of Ridgefield Park. DUI. Indicted on Nov. 30, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  20. Girard Nichirco , 51, of Lyndhurst. Three DUIs. Indicted on Dec. 13, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  21. Robert H. Brown , 61, of Paterson. CDL for tanker. Indicted on Dec. 13, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  22. Felix M. Martinez , 38, of Passaic. Registered sex offender, several suspensions. Indicted on Jan. 11, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  23. Gabriel Rodriguez , 63, of Paterson. Two DUIs. Indicted on Jan. 11, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  24. Ramon Hazell , 63, of Englewood. Three DUIs. Indicted on Jan. 11, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  25. Kirk Bland , 50, of Trenton. Two DUIs. Indicted on Jan. 14, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  26. Norman D. Hayes , 46, of South Bound Brook. Two DUIs. Indicted on Nov. 14, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  27. Antonio Torres, aka Richard Rivera , 50, of Edison. Inadequate documentation for license. Charged by complaint on Nov. 26, 2012. Multiple counts of using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  28. Jose Marte , 50, of Newark. Three suspensions. Indicted on Nov. 14, 2012. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  29. Nestor Seda , 50, Wildwood. Suspended. Indicted on Feb. 1, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  30. Kirk Johnson , 49, of Vineland. Eighteen suspensions, 7 DUIs. Indicted on Feb. 5, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  31. Mario C. Ramirez-Gomez , 67, of Elizabeth. Inadequate documentation for license. Indicted on Feb. 5, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  32. Manuel R. Pillacela , 47, of Elizabeth. CDL for hazardous waste tanker, inadequate documentation for license. Indicted on Feb. 5, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  33. Robert Ajamian , 60, of Manville. DUI. Indicted on Feb. 5, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  34. John Raso, Jr. , 61, of Toms River. Three DUIs. Indicted on Feb. 5, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  35. Johnny Rios , 32, of Bellmawr. Indicted on Feb. 5, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  36. Bryant J. Hellrigel , 50, of Brick. Several suspensions, including a DUI. Indicted on Feb. 5, 2013. Using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree), tampering with public records (3 rd degree), forgery (3 rd degree).
  37. Kangstai Wei , 56, of East Brunswick. Inadequate documentation for license. Indicted on Feb. 6, 2013. Tampering with public records (3 rd degree).
  38. Tashira White , 31, of East Orange. Several suspensions, including a DUI. Indicted on Feb. 11, 2013. Two counts each of using personal identifying information of another (2 nd degree) and tampering with public records (3 rd degree).

As results came in from the initial scrub, the MVC expanded the sharing of its valuable Operation Facial Scrub information by establishing the Aggregated Investigative Reporting Service (AIRS) in June 2012. This system, featuring users from 22 state and federal agencies, allows strategic sharing of information with partners that may be susceptible to fraudulent activity committed by the same individuals already investigated by the MVC. With real-time access to the information, the agencies can review and evaluate the identified individuals and pursue cases as well.

The MVC, the Division of Criminal Justice, and the New Jersey Office of Information Technology have implemented a secure AIRS website, which serves as a central clearinghouse for key information on potential criminal fraud suspects identified through Operation Facial Scrub.

Attorney General Chiesa commended the attorneys and detectives who have worked on the criminal investigations.  They include Deputy Attorneys General Debra Conrad, Lilianne Daniel, Mary Erin McAnally, Valerie Noto, Krystle Nova, Jacqueline Olivadoti and Anthony Torntore of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau; Detectives Cecil Boone, Franco Cignarella, Michael Duffield, Sean Egan, Christian Harden, Kelly Howard, Joseph McCray and Nicholas Olenick of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau; and Detectives Douglas Adams, Aaron Auclair, Enrique Bryan, James Carnival, Bryan Catterson, James Mitchell, Jeovanny Rodriguez, Keith Roslan and Wanda Stojanov of the New Jersey State Police. Attorney General Chiesa also commended all of the individuals who worked on the cases for the MVC.

Chief Administrator Martinez and Attorney General Chiesa thanked the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Information Technology (OIT), the MVC Division of Security, Investigation & Internal Audit and the various other internal divisions that assisted the MVC in implementing Operation Facial Scrub.

“In addition to scrubbing the 19 million photos in the system, the MVC is working diligently to maintain the integrity of the database through a nightly scrub of all new photos taken at its 39 agencies statewide,” Chiesa said. “This ensures that attempted fraud will be identified and stopped quickly.”

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