A former employee of the Fair Oaks office of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is facing a possible 15 years in prison after pleading guilty last week to producing false ID documents. He is Edward Willey Shelton, 43, of 2902 Seay St. in Alexandria.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia, between Oct. 1, 1999 and October 2000, "Shelton accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribe payments to assist hundreds of unqualified, illegal aliens from New York and elsewhere obtain Virginia driver's licenses and instructional permits."
Three other co-defendants previously pleaded guilty to charges of either transporting or harboring illegal aliens. In fact, the case against Shelton grew out of an investigation of the other DMV employees.
Eventually, officials realized Shelton's wrongdoing, as well. He had passed the unqualified applicants on the mandatory vision and written tests without the tests being given. And he allowed many of them to avoid taking the required driving test, altogether.
Special Agent Vincent Doherty of the Virginia State Police presented details of Shelton's actions in a Nov. 26 affidavit for a search warrant. He wrote that he obtained his information from a DMV criminal investigative report prepared by J.C. Gilbertson, special agent in charge, district 4, Virginia DMV.
Investigating a possible offense of bribery of public servants, Doherty sought permission to look at Shelton's bank account in the Main Street branch of the Bank of America in the City of Fairfax. He wanted to see bank documents, monthly checking-account statements and copies of all deposits and checks written for Shelton's account there.
According to Doherty, Shelton worked in the customer service center of the DMV's office in the Fair Oaks Mall. And once authorities discovered that he was "selling DMV learner's permits to individuals who did not take the necessary examination or provide the necessary identity documentation," DMV investigators contacted Shelton, Oct. 3, at his home.
That day, wrote Doherty, Shelton admitted what he'd done. "He indicated he did not spend any money on himself, but gave the money to individuals in need," wrote the special agent. "Mr. Shelton advised [that] he received approximately $10,000 for issuing the Department of Motor Vehicles learner's permits. He stated he gave money to his sister and his nieces."
Doherty also noted that Shelton admitted to winning nearly $30,000 at the slot machines at Dover Downs in Dover, Del. Doherty hoped to find in Shelton's bank account some evidence of the deposits from the sale of the learner's permits and, possibly, checks written to individuals after those deposits were made to his checking account.
The investigation continued for awhile but, finally, on March 5, Shelton was charged with a criminal complaint. He appeared last Wednesday, May 1, before Judge James C. Cacheris in U.S. District Court in Alexandria and pleaded guilty to producing false identification documents. His sentencing is scheduled for July 19; at that time, he could receive as much as 15 years behind bars and a fine of up to $250,000.
"Because it is known that Virginia identification documents and driver's licenses have been illegally procured with ease, thousands of undocumented aliens have been known to flock to Virginia each year to obtain these documents by fraud," said Warren A. Lewis, district director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Continued Lewis: "With the guilty plea in this case, INS stands committed to working with DMV to stop the illegal activity that facilitates the possession of legitimate documents through fraud by unauthorized aliens."