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DMV Official Arrested

Manager of Springfield DMV arrested for selling Virginia driver's license to illegal immigrants.

Francisco "Frank" J. Martinez, the manager of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles at Springfield Mall, was arrested Tuesday, July 12 for selling at least 40 driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and individuals who had suspended driver's licenses, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Martinez, a DMV employee since 1990, charged a fee between $2,000 to $3,500 for the licenses, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty. He had managed the Springfield office since 2001 and was the senior DMV employee who had "direct supervisory control" over the office's operations and 30 employees.

Martinez is accused of falsifying DMV records to make it appear that immigrants had recently moved to Virginia from another state, according to McNulty.

Martinez, 57 of Stafford, his wife Miriam E. Martinez, 56, and Daniel Jose Guardia Lopez, 25 of Alexandria, were all charged with conspiring to produce Virginia driver's licenses by fraud.

Each faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, if convicted.

Recovering illegally issued licenses will be part of DMV's follow-up investigation, according to a release issued by the DMV. "These arrests bear witness to the fact that when evidence suggests wrong-doing, this agency will investigate, prosecute and terminate," according to DVM Commissioner D.B. Smith.

The DMV suspended Frank Martinez, who faces termination, according to DMV's press release.

UNDER THE SCHEME, according to McNulty, Martinez' wife, who worked as a clerk in the Tysons Corner DMV from 1996-1998 and again in 2003, "served as the link between her husband and the unqualified applicants." Guardia Lopez found the clients, collected fees and gave them instructions from Martinez' wife on when to go to the Springfield DMV to get the fake licenses, according to McNulty's press release and an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in support of criminal complaints, arrest warrants and a search warrant.

Guardia Lopez said he first became involved in the fraud approximately 18 months ago, when he agreed to pay more than $2,000 to Miriam Martinez for helping him obtain fake licenses for himself, according to the documents. Guardia Lopez, a citizen of Bolivia who is illegally in the United States, later helped "recruit" immigrants and passed their information and money to Martinez, according to the court documents. He said he received $500 for each license Martinez produced, sometimes bringing 12 "clients" to Martinez a month.

A hearing in U.S. District Court was scheduled for Tuesday, July 14.

<1b>— Ken Moore