U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of California
(619) 557-5610
September 5, 2014

Former DMV Employee Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, Document Fraud, and Witness Tampering in a Widespread Corruption Case at the DMV in Southern California

Jeffrey Bednarek, a former employee at the California Department of Motor Vehicles office in El Cajon, California, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Cathy A. Bencivengo to three years in prison for his leadership role in a conspiracy to commit bribery, identification document fraud and witness tampering. In addition to the prison sentence imposed, the court also ordered Bednarek to pay a fine of $25,000.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Bencivengo told the defendant that as a DMV employee and a former corrections officer, he should have known better. “You were in fact violating the public trust…You had to know it was wrong.”

In comments at today’s hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Orabona argued for a significant sentence and gave examples of Bednarek’s cavalier attitude about his crimes. “Bednarek’s greed overrode his integrity. His attempt to alter the testimony of a witness just prior to trial showed his determination to mask the truth about his criminal activities.”

Orabona told the judge that Bednarek processed a fraudulent license for an undercover agent, and after it was complete, he handed the agent the temporary license, made the sign of the cross, and said, “Be good. Be gone. And sin no more.”

The prosecutor also read text messages from Bednarek to co-conspirator Jim Bean, referring to the substantial amount of cash he was collecting through the bribery scheme. “Come drop the package chubby. Cha-ching.”

Bednarek pleaded guilty on January 28, 2014. According to court documents, Bednarek was a Licensing Registration Examiner at the El Cajon DMV who was responsible for conducting driving tests for driver’s license applicants. Beginning in at least April 2009, and continuing up to at least April 26, 2012, Bednarek conspired with his co-defendants to commit federal program bribery and identification document fraud. In his plea agreement, Bednarek admitted that he falsely entered “passing” scores for both written and behind-the-wheel tests for applicants who applied for regular (Class C) and commercial (Class A) driver’s licenses in exchange for bribes. Bednarek also acknowledged that he directed others to enter false “passing” test scores and that he created false driving test score sheets to create the appearance that the applicant had completed the test. Bednarek said in his plea agreement that during the conspiracy, he produced more than 100 fraudulent driver’s permits and licenses, and that applicants paid more than $50,000 in total bribes for permits and licenses that he fraudulently produced.

While awaiting an upcoming trial that was scheduled for December 2, 2013, Bednarek tampered with one of the Government’s witnesses, the plea agreement said. According to court documents, Bednarek was arrested on November 13, 2013 pursuant to a complaint for witness tampering. On November 22, 2013, Judge Bencivengo ordered that Bednarek be detained pending trial. Bednarek admitted in his plea agreement that between January 26, 2013 and November 4, 2013, he knowingly attempted to corruptly persuade a Government witness to alter his testimony, namely, to provide false testimony regarding cash bribes that Bednarek had received for his aggravating role in the conspiracy. Bednarek admitted that he intended to prevent and influence the Government witness’s testimony in the trial that was scheduled for December 2, 2013.

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said, “Public corruption is one of our highest priorities. Today’s sentence demonstrates that those who violate the public’s trust will be held accountable for their crimes. We thank our partners at the FBI and DMV for their commitment to this important investigation.”

“Our department takes any type of crime among our employees very seriously,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto. “Our own DMV Investigations Unit and other law enforcement agencies are always on the lookout for this type of illegal activity in any of our field offices.”

Of the 31 defendants charged in this widespread corruption scheme (related Criminal Case Nos. 12CR1852-CAB, 13CR0121-CAB, and 13CR0592-CAB), 30 of the 31 defendants, including Bednarek, have pleaded guilty to felony conduct, namely, conspiracy to commit bribery and identification document fraud. One defendant is a fugitive. All of the former DMV employees convicted in this case were sentenced to prison, and most of the recruiters and driver’s license applicants received probationary sentences. In total, the Court imposed approximately $119,000 in fines. The following table provides a summary of the crimes and sentences for almost all of the defendants in the widespread corruption scheme:

Defendant

Case Number

Charge(s)

Sentence

Jim Lynn Bean

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy Bribery

597 days in prison, three years’ supervised release, Fine of $25,000

Jeffrey Thomas Bednarek

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy Bribery Identification Document Fraud Witness Tampering

36 months in prison, three years’ supervised release, Fine of $25,000

Scott David Friedli

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Four months in prison, two years’ supervised release, Fine of $1,500

Marco Beltran

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Six months in prison, two years’ supervised release, Fine of $4,000

Gabriella Villanueva

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $200

Bashar Assad Azaria

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $2,000

Reenan Esa Kuza

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Two years’ probation, Fine of $3,000

Usman Aliyev

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $2,100

Abdulmajed Alhokair

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Ahmad Alarbeed

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Mohammed Alsuwaidi

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Khalid Abdulaziz Al-Sowaidi

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Talal Bass Almousharji

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $900

Virginia Pena

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

51 days in prison, two years’ supervised release, Fine of $600

Gizem Yontar

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Douri Zafer

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Asiel Bahjat Tomika

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $4,600

Angel Salvador Astimibay

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Bekzad Mirhanov

12CR1852-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Jesus Leon

13CR0121-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $200

Jesse Mario Bryan

13CR0592-CAB

Conspiracy Bribery

6 months in prison, three years’ supervised release, Fine of $25,000

Alexander Gonzalez

13CR0529-CAB

Conspiracy

12 days in prison, 32 months’ supervised release, Fine of $8,000

Frank Tom Attiq

13CR0592-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $200

Ali Al Nadawi

13CR0592-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,500

Saleh Almuzini

13CR0592-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Matthew Allan Elliott

13CR0592-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

Mohamed Alali

13CR0592-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $800

James Lester Shaw

13CR0592-CAB

Conspiracy

10 days in prison, two years’ supervised release, Fine of $4,000

Hassan Hamad Althani

13CR0592-CAB

Conspiracy

Five years’ probation, Fine of $1,000

These cases are the result of an active, ongoing criminal investigation. Anyone with information about corruption at the DMV is asked to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-877-NO-BRIBE (662-7423), or the DMV’s Investigations Branch-Office of Internal Affairs at 626-851-0173.

DEFENDANT

Criminal Case No. 12CR1852-CAB
Jeffrey T. Bednarek Age: 54

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Count 1: Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 — Conspiracy to Commit Bribery and to Produce Unauthorized Identification Documents — statutory maximum sentence of five years’ custody, a maximum fine of $250,000, special assessment of $100, and a maximum term of supervised release of three years.

Count 2: Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(1)(B) — Bribery — statutory maximum sentence of 10 years’ custody, special assessment of $100, and a maximum term of supervised release of three years.

Count 7: Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(b)(1) — Witness Tampering — statutory maximum sentence of 20 years’ custody, a maximum fine of $250,000, special assessment of $100, and a maximum term of supervised release of three years.

INVESTIGATING AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Motor Vehicles Investigations Division

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