A Knoxville couple admitted to conspiring to create illegal identification documents.
Cheryl Huff, 49, and Mario Paz-Mejia, 50, entered guilty pleas in the federal court on Thursday for their roles in a scheme to produce hundreds of Tennessee driver’s licenses and identification cards.
In the Eastern District of Tennessee’s U.S. District Court, Cheryl Huff and Mario Paz-Mejia faced legal repercussions under Judge Katherine A. Crytzer.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 24, 2024, where each individual could receive up to 15 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
Cheryl Huff served as the District Manager for the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDSHS). In her position, she was responsible for the issuance of legitimate driver’s licenses and identification cards in the Greater Knoxville area, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ) news release.
Mario Paz-Mejia played the intermediary role by soliciting individuals, primarily non-citizens and non-Tennessee residents, offering them illegal access to Tennessee documentation for a hefty sum of $2,500.
More from the DOJ:
Using his association with Huff, Paz-Mejia represented to his customers that, in return for $2,500, Paz-Mejia could obtain for them a Tennessee driver’s license or identification card.
Paz-Mejia also assisted his customers in obtaining false citizenship and residency documents—two requirements to obtain a Tennessee driver’s license—including fraudulent lease agreements to establish proof of Tennessee residency, and false birth certificates, Social Security cards, and driver’s licenses from other states and U.S. territories to establish proof of citizenship or legal residency in the United States.
Huff knew, or deliberately ignored a high probability, that Paz-Mejia was helping his customers obtain false citizenship and residency documents and that Paz-Mejia charged his customers money to obtain a Tennessee driver’s license or identification card.
Huff used her access to TDSHS’s internal software to confirm that the names and information on the false citizenship and residency documents used by Paz-Mejia’s customers could be used to obtain a Tennessee driver’s license or identification card.
For example, on June 23, 2021, Paz-Mejia texted Huff the name, date of birth, and personal information used on false identification documents, asking Huff to “check that please.” Huff responded, “All of these are not on file. They’re good.”
After Paz-Mejia’s customers acquired false citizenship and residency documents, Paz-Mejia arranged to meet them at a Knoxville-area DSC before business hours. With Huff’s assistance, Paz-Mejia escorted his customers into DSCs before business hours, including through a backdoor employee-only entrance.
Once Paz-Mejia and his customers were inside, Huff initiated driver’s license applications for the customers using TDSHS software. Huff also instructed subordinate DSC employees to complete applications and issue driver’s licenses to many of Paz-Mejia’s customers.
“Abusing a position of public trust to commit any federal crime, including conspiracy to unlawfully produce false identification documents, undermines the public’s confidence in government functions and creates a serious security risk,” said United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee Francis M. Hamilton III. “Our office will aggressively prosecute government employees who abuse their trusted employment positions for personal gain.”
“I am deeply disappointed in the actions of a former Tennessee Driver Services District Manager and others who betrayed the trust and tarnished the reputation of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security,” said Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long.
“I want to thank the departmental employees for having the courage to alert and cooperate with the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division on this case involving one of their co-workers. Our agency cooperates and works closely with federal law enforcement partners and the United States Attorney’s Office to pursue justice to the fullest extent of the law.”
This prosecution is the result of an ongoing investigation by the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division, the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the United States Secret Service.
The post Former Tennessee Official and Spouse Plead Guilty to Illegally Producing and Selling ‘Hundreds’ of Driver’s Licenses to Illegal Immigrants appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.
By: Jim Hᴏft
Title: Former Tennessee Official and Spouse Plead Guilty to Illegally Producing and Selling ‘Hundreds’ of Driver’s Licenses to Illegal Immigrants
Sourced From: www.thegatewaypundit.com/2023/12/former-tennessee-official-spouse-plead-guilty-illegally-producing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=former-tennessee-official-spouse-plead-guilty-illegally-producing
Published Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2023 13:45:28 +0000
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