It is almost as if he is shooting fish in a barrel. Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., has made another big splash announcing the arrest and indictment of a New York State Department of Motor Vehicle’s (“DMV”) clerk who is alleged to have unlawfully processed at least three drivers license applications. It is claimed by prosecutors, who are understandably concerned about this type of conduct, that one of the individuals who fraudulently obtained a license had previously been convicted of a felony and deported from the United States. Clarence Jenkins, the DMV clerk indicted for the alleged scheme, is charged with three counts each of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a class D felony, Issuing a False Certificate, a class E felony, and Official Misconduct, a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, the accused faces up to seven, four and one year in custody on each respective offense.
In acknowledging the danger of illegally issuing New York State drivers licenses to those who are not entitled to them, DA Vance stated “… [Jenkins] may have jeopardized public safety.” Whether as a New York criminal lawyer I agree with the prosecution’s ultimate determination as to how to handle the case and seek a potential plea or sentence, DA Vance is certainly correct in his assertion. Unlike a minor attempting to get a license for the purpose of going to a bar or purchasing alcohol, fraud such as that alleged here has the potential for grave danger. Fortunately, it does not appear from the press release that this is the case.
In working with New York State Inspector General Ellen N. Biben, a former Manhattan prosecutor herself, the New York County District Attorney’s Office alleges that Jenkins turned a tidy profit for his criminal conduct. In fact, Jenkins is accused of accepting forged driver licenses purportedly issued by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from at least three individuals who paid money to obtain the illegally-issued New York State driver licenses. The amount of money he is believed to received totaled almost $15,000. It is claimed that Jenkins became immersed in this criminal scheme as early as 2009 when he instructed one of the individual to go to the DMV at 125th Street, wear a Yankees hat, sit in front of his window, and then wait for a signal.
As noted above, Jenkins faces a term of state prison should he be convicted of these crimes. Briefly, one is guilty of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 170.25) when he possesses a written instrument with the intent to defraud that is fake or false and that object purports to be issued from a governmental agency such as the DMV. One is guilty of Issuing a False Certificate (New York Penal Law 175.40) when, being a public servant authorized by law to make or issue official certificates or other official written instruments, and with intent to defraud, one issues such an instrument (such as a drivers license) or makes the same with intent that it be issued, knowing that it contains a false statement or false information. Lastly, one is guilty of Official Misconduct (New York Penal Law 195.00(1)) when one is a public servant and with the intent to obtain a benefit one commits an act relating to one’s office but constituting an unauthorized exercise of one’s official functions, knowing that such act is unauthorized.
As I routinely note in cases such as these, it will be interesting to see how prosecutors proceed with the case. Because Jenkins is already indicted, he is starting off in a more precarious position than if he was merely arrested. Additionally, do prosecutors believe or does evidence establish that Jenkins had created or permitted the issuance of many more drivers licenses? Did Jenkins make admissions or is there independent evidence of these cash transactions? What evidence (computer records, for example) implicate Jenkins in the creation of each drivers license? These factors will certainly play out in where this indictment heads and how long it takes to achieve a disposition.
To further understand the fraud crimes listed above, either follow the links or review the websites and blogs below.
Established in 2008 by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the New York criminal lawyers at Saland Law PC represent defendants who are the target of or have been arrested in any white collar and fraud case throughout the New York City and suburban area.