Three Accused of Operating Fake ID Ring Plead Guilty
Alan Jones, Mark Bernardo, Kelly McPhee Admit to Producing, Selling Fraudulent Driver’s Licenses Nationwide
|U.S. Attorney’s Office September 04, 2013|
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—The three Charlottesville residents accused of producing tens of thousands of fraudulent driver’s licenses and shipping them across the country pled guilty this morning in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Alan McNeil Jones, 31; Kelly Erin McPhee, 31; and Mark Guerin Bernardo, 34, all of Charlottesville, Virginia, waived their rights to be indicted and pled guilty this morning to a two-count information. The three defendants each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit identification document fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
“These three defendants developed a sophisticated scheme to produce and sell high-quality false identification documents throughout the nation,” United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “Their criminal enterprise was tremendously lucrative, generating profits of more than $3 million over several years. By producing and distributing these fraudulent identification documents, Mr. Jones and his co-conspirators endangered national security. Law enforcement personnel involved in this case will take every available step to recover these counterfeit driver’s licenses and ensure that they cannot be used to facilitate additional criminal activity.”
“The defendants in this case primarily used the U.S. mail to facilitate their criminal scheme. Postal inspectors were able to quickly identify the scheme and worked aggressively with our partnering law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to locate the subjects involved and ultimately dismantle their criminal enterprise. Through cases like these, the Postal Inspection Service upholds its long standing mission of protecting the public and preventing criminal misuse of the U.S. mail,” said Keith A. Fixel, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service-Charlotte Division.
“Regardless of the reasons for seeking fraudulent documents, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) strives to detect, deter, and disrupt individuals and organizations that present an active threat to national security or public safety and who seek to undermine the integrity of the laws and regulations of the United States,” said Scot Rittenberg, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Washington. D.C. Field Office.
Today in District Court, Jones, McPhee, and Bernardo admitted to conspiring to create high-quality fraudulent driver’s licenses out of the home they shared on Rugby Road in Charlottesville, Virginia. The conspiracy, which began in 2010 and operated under the name Novel Design, produced and sold more than 25,000 fraudulent driver’s licenses, primarily to college students, throughout the nation.
As part of the scheme, Jones paid commissions to students at the University of Virginia, and elsewhere, to refer his service to other students interested in obtaining fraudulent driver’s licenses. He also outsourced some of the manufacturing work to companies in Bangladesh and China.
During the entire period of time in which Novel Design was in operation, Jones, McPhee, and Bernardo produced approximately 25,000 fraudulent driver’s licenses for customers. They charged anywhere from $75 to $125 per fake license, and the three obtained more than $3 million from customers. To date, over $2.7 million in assets have been seized by law enforcement.
At the height of the conspiracy, Jones, McPhee, and Bernardo,were able to create fraudulent driver’s licenses for the states of Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
At sentencing, each defendant faces a maximum possible penalty of up to 15 years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge and a mandatory additional two-year sentence on the aggravated identify theft charge.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Virginia State Police. Assisting in the investigation was the Homeland Security Investigations Laboratory; the United States Postal Inspection Service Laboratory; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Albemarle County Police Department; the Charlottesville Police Department, the State Attorney General’s Office for the Commonwealth of Virginia; the United States Secret Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the College of Charleston; the Texas Highway Patrol; and the University of Virginia Police. United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy and Assistant United States Attorney Ronald Huber are prosecuting the case for the United States.