Francisco "Frank" J. Martinez, the manager of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles at Springfield Mall who was arrested for selling driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, was denied bond last week.
"The government's case appears to be very strong," said U.S. District Court Judge Theresa Carroll Buchanan during Martinez' preliminary hearing and detention hearing on Thursday, July 14. "I am very concerned with risk of flight."
Pamela Bombardi, special agent with the FBI, testified that Martinez, who was arrested July 12, sold at least 50 driver's licenses, mostly to illegal immigrants. "It's up to 50," she said. "We're still checking records now."
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.
Under their scheme, Miriam Martinez, who worked as a clerk in the Tysons Corner DMV from 1996-98 and again in 2003, was a link between her husband and the unqualified applicants. Guardia Lopez found the clients — up to 12 a month — collected fees and gave them instructions from Miriam Martinez on when to go to the Springfield DMV to obtain the fake licenses, according to court documents.
Frank Martinez, a DMV employee since 1990, had managed the Springfield office since 2001. He charged a fee between $2,000 to $3,500 for the licenses, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty.
The Martinezes have declared bankruptcy twice, have large credit card debt and civil suits against them, said Stephanie Bibighaus, assistant U.S. Attorney. "They are definitely looking at jail time," she said during the hearing.
Frank Martinez, Miriam Martinez and Guardia Lopez each face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Miriam Martinez, who has no prior criminal record, has suffered two heart attacks recently and has high blood pressure, said Thomas Walsh, her defense attorney. "She is not a danger to the community. This is a document fraud case," Walsh said.
Judge Buchanan will allow Miriam Martinez to post a $100,000 bond under specific conditions. "The ability for her to flee is not as great," she said.
Frank Martinez' attorney also argued for his client to be released on bond. "I don't think there is a risk factor. All the family is here in the United States," said David J. Kiyonaga, calling Frank Martinez an Army veteran who served in Vietnam.
But the FBI seized licenses with Frank Martinez' photograph and false names and social security information from the Martinez' house, Bombardi testified.
"That makes him a risk of flight," Buchanan said.