Multiple people from DC, Maryland and Virginia have been charged with felonies in Alexandria within the last several months as part of an alleged scheme to get driver’s and commercial driver’s licenses with forged documents, ALXnow has learned.
On May 5, 2022, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles discovered fraudulent out-of-state driving records being used to get driver’s licenses and commercial driver’s licenses, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit filed in the Alexandria Circuit Court by DMV’s law enforcement division.
That was when an “observant DMV customer service representative” alerted DMV law enforcement of suspected wrongdoing, said Pam Goheen, assistant commissioner for communications for Virginia DMV.
Seven people have been arrested in Alexandria in connection to the ongoing investigation, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter.
“The case involves charges in multiple jurisdictions in Virginia, and obviously the defendants reside outside of Virginia,” Porter said. “As this is an ongoing investigation, my office cannot comment on the evidence, the charges, or our trial strategy. Anyone charged is presumed to be innocent and the Commonwealth bears the burden of proving every element of any charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt in a competent court of law.”
As of April 3, DMV has uncovered 94 cases of fraudulently issued licenses from altered driving records and altered residency documents, according to the search warrant affidavit. Additionally, those arrested referred investigators to an Instagram account that advertised the documents for sale.
“The seller required the purchasers to pay via Cash App and the documents would be emailed (and) printed off by the purchaser,” the search warrant affidavit said. “One individual provided screenshots of the advertisement from the Instagram account as well as instant messages describing how to obtain the Virginia license and which DMV office to go to.”
DMV found that transcripts were changed to show that the person listed had a valid driver’s or commercial driver’s license from the jurisdiction they live in “when in fact they did not,” according to the search warrant affidavit.
Goheen said that the investigation is ongoing. She did not say which DMV locations were targeted, except that some of the offenses occurred in several regions, including Northern Virginia.
“DMV has canceled licenses that were obtained illegally in this case, and additional arrests and charges are expected,” Goheen said. “It is inappropriate at this time to provide details of the activity until the investigation is complete and arrest warrants are served. However, DMV has taken steps to prevent future instances of the activity.”
So far, a 30-year-old man from Capital Heights, Maryland, is the only suspect found guilty. The man was initially charged with obtaining a license by fraud, a felony punishable by up to a year in prison and/or a $2500 fine, but the charge was downgraded to unauthorized use of DMV materials, which is a misdemeanor. He was found guilty on Jan. 24 and sentenced to 30 days in jail, all of which was suspended. He was also charged $214, which is now past due, according to court records.
Each suspect arrested in Alexandria was released on bond, or on their own recognizance, according to court records.
The other suspects include:
- A 28-year-old D.C. man — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud and forging public records. The offense allegedly occurred on October 29, 2022, he was arrested on April 12 and goes to court to have an attorney appointed to him on May 19
- A 29-year-old Hyattsville, Maryland, woman — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud and forging public records. The offense allegedly occurred on January, 19 2023, she was arrested on Feb. 2 and has a preliminary hearing on May 26
- A 38-year-old Waldorf, Maryland, woman — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud and forging public records. The offense allegedly occurred on May 22, 2022, she was arrested on March 26 and has a preliminary hearing on May 26
- A 28-year-old D.C. man — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud. The offense allegedly occurred on October 22.2022, he was arrested on March 15 and has a preliminary hearing on May 24
- A 41-year-old Clinton, Maryland, man — Charged with forgery and obtaining a license by fraud. The offense allegedly occurred on April 24, which is the same day he was arrested. His preliminary hearing is on June 23
- A 59-year-old D.C. man — Charged with obtaining a license by fraud. The offense allegedly occurred on March 3, he was arrested on April 26 and goes to court for an arraignment on May 10
(Updated 2:45 p.m.) A 28-year-old Prince William County man was arrested for the murder of a 25-year-old more than a year ago, the Alexandria Police Department announced today.
Dontae LaShawn Drumgold is being held without bond in connection with the death of Elijah Williams in March 2022.
Drumgold was arrested in another jurisdiction on May 1, and arrested in Alexandria yesterday (Monday), according to court records reviewed by ALXnow.
He was charged with first-degree murder and one count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony. He went to court today for a preliminary hearing. No trial date has been set, according to the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.
APD did not say in its announcement where Drumgold was arrested and did not respond to a request for comment before publication.
Williams was shot dead and found by police on the sidewalk in the 4500 block of Raleigh Avenue at around 7 a.m. on March 25, 2022 — last year’s first homicide.
“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner later determined the cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the head,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said.
First-Degree Murder carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole. Use of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony requires a three-year mandatory minimum sentence.
Notification:: There is a heavy police presence in the 4500 block of Raleigh avenue. This is in response to a sudden death. APD is on scene and investigating. No further details at this time. pic.twitter.com/ghzpiZUi7n
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) March 23, 2022
New Release Update:: APD arrested Dontae Drumgold, 28, and charged him with First-Degree Murder and one count of Use of a Firearm in Commission of a Felony in response to a homicide from March 23, 2022.
Read more:: https://t.co/MS5KRkjPMo pic.twitter.com/GNMuuB8wiW
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) May 9, 2023
Image via Alexandria Sheriff’s Office
A 56-year-old Alexandria woman was sentenced to 41 months in prison for ordering more than $600,000 in cell phones through her former employer, the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington, and keeping the money.
The former office manager at YMCA-DC was sentenced Thursday, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice. According to court documents, she worked at YMCA-DC from 2007 until her termination in May 2019.
“While working at the YMCA-DC, (the former office manager) devised a scheme to defraud by taking advantage of an arrangement with Verizon Wireless to sell YMCA-DC, as a non-profit organization, cell phones for its employees at a discounted price,” according to DOJ. “From at least January 2016 through April 2019, (she) placed online orders for discounted cell phones from Verizon that she personally received, disconnected from service, and sold to companies that buy and sell new or slightly used phones.”
The YMCA employee set up a fraudulent “YMCA” account with Verizon, and bought discount phones with non-YMCA money in order to resell them at a profit, according to YMCA-DC.
The woman pleaded guilty in October to ordering more than 1,000 phones for YMCA-DC employees, which were sold to third-party companies. The phones were valued at $618,090, which she was ordered to repay by U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth. SHe must also undergo three years of supervised release after her term.
(Updated 5:30 p.m.) A 45-year-old Fairfax County man was sentenced to 10 years in prison last Thursday for a 2022 crash on Duke Street that killed a Fairfax County man and injured four others.
Carlos Kami Adar McKethan pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of drugs in connection with the death of 39-year-old Bizuayehu Bulti on the night of Feb. 22, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter.
McKethan, who drove a silver SUV, was high on Phencyclidine (PCP) when he attempted to pass a bus at 110 miles per hour.
“McKethan did not slow down as he swerved around Mr. Bulti’s vehicle into oncoming traffic,” Porter said. “McKethan struck the back of Mr. Bulti’s vehicle, sending it crashing into another vehicle and spinning further down Duke Street. McKethan’s SUV spun out in the opposite direction, crashing into two vehicles that had been stopped at the westbound light.”
Bulti, who left behind a family he was supporting in Ethiopia, was driving home from his job at Virginia Hospital Center when the crash occurred.
The speed was verified by the Event Data Recorder in McKethan’s vehicle and his blood contained 0.04 mg/L of PCP, according to court records.
“This significant sentence imposed in this case holds the defendant accountable for his extremely reckless actions,” Porter said. “PCP is a dangerous drug, and the combination of drug use and immense speed caused a tragedy in this case. My thoughts are with Mr. Bulti’s family and with the other citizens who were injured as a result of the defendant’s crimes.”
Five vehicles were totaled in the crash, which occurred at around 11:50 p.m in the 3200 block of Duke Street. The crash left one person critically injured, two people seriously injured and two people with minor injuries, according to the Alexandria Police Department.
Porter continued, “Mr. Bulti was freed from the vehicle within minutes, but he soon succumbed to his injuries. Four additional victims suffered injuries, and all five cars were totaled.”
McKethan was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with 10 years suspended on condition of supervised probation for five years and uniform good behavior for 10 years.
He is currently held in the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center and will be transferred to the Virginia Department of Corrections.
News Release:: APD Investigates a Multi-Vehicle Crash
The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a multi-vehicle crash that occurred late Tuesday evening.
Read more — https://t.co/5SKU5NPdKt pic.twitter.com/fiyLoqugYZ
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) February 23, 2022
Image via Google Maps
Alexandria Police arrested two men last month and, according to affidavits, recovered a large number of illegal narcotics, cash and other items.
The investigation into the suspects began in November, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.
The Alexandria Police Department conducted the investigation for more than four months, and during that time APD observed one of the suspects “conduct hand-to-hand transactions in the parking lots of restaurants in the nearby area of the Seminary Road apartment,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.
One of the suspects, a 38-year-old Prince William County man, was arrested in the apartment during the execution of the search warrant. His roommate, a 41-year-old Washington D.C. man, was arrested that same day in the 4900 block of Seminary Road in Alexandria, and was allegedly in possession of 20 fentanyl pills, according to the search warrant affidavit.
Alexandria and Fairfax County Police found the following in their apartment in the 5600 block of Seminary Road in Falls Church:
- Approximately 134.8 grams of crack cocaine
- Approximately 12,955 fentanyl pills
- Approximately 1.8 grams of MDMA (ecstasy)
- Several hundred Adderall pills
- Approximately 50-100 Xanax pills
- $26,954 in U.S. currency
- Three digital scales
- Multiple cell phones
- Gun ammunition and a magazine
Both suspects are convicted felons. The 38-year-old suspect was charged with possession of a weapon other than a firearm by a convicted felon, two counts of possession with intent to distribute Schedule I/II drugs and two counts of selling/distributing Schedule IV drugs. The 41-year-old suspect was charged with two counts of selling Schedule I/II drugs.
Both suspects are being held without bond and go to court on April 12.
Two Manassas men arrested in November for allegedly stealing air bags in Arlington are also suspected of committing 11 similar acts in Alexandria, according to police.
The 43-year-old and 25-year-old suspects were arrested on Nov. 13 in Arlington and charged in connection with three airbag thefts committed that day. The suspects are also accused of 11 similar incidents in Alexandria between Aug. 25 and Oct. 31, 2022, according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.
The 11 incidents occurred in parking garages in the 4500 block of Strutfield Lane, in a West End residential area full of apartment complexes. Police obtained numerous videos of the two suspects smashing vehicle windows and removing airbags. The suspects allegedly drove a black Honda Civic with Virginia tags and a distinctive chrome dual exhaust — a detail that led to their eventual arrest.
In early November, a license plate reader hit on a black Honda Civic with the same tags in connection to a possible airbag theft in D.C., police said in the search warrant affidavit. The responding officer also noted the dual exhaust system of the vehicle.
The suspects were arrested on Nov. 13 after allegedly smashing the windows of three vehicles and stealing airbags in the 2100 block of Columbia Pike in Arlington. The 43-year-old suspect posted bond and the 25-year-old is being held without bond.
According to the Arlington County Police Department:
Upon a search of Suspect One incident to arrest, a glass breaking tool was located. Upon a search of the suspect vehicle, burglarious tools, a radar detector and air bags were recovered. [A suspect], 25, of Manassas, Va. was arrested and charged with Destruction of Property (x3), Tampering with Auto (x3), Grand Larceny (x2), Possession of Burglarious Tools, Possession of Stolen Items with the Intent to Sell, Conspiracy to Commit Larceny (x2), Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Possession of Radar Detector. [A suspect], 43, of Manassas, Va, was arrested and charged with Destruction of Property (x3), Tampering with Auto (x3), Grand Larceny (x2), Possession of Burglarious Tools, Possession of Stolen Items with the Intent to Sell and Conspiracy to Commit Larceny (x2).
Both suspects go to court for the offenses on Wednesday, Jan. 18.
After a lengthy trial, a hung jury couldn’t reach a verdict against a 24-year-old California man accused of murdering a man in the West End in 2020, and the Commonwealth’s Attorney will retry the case in February.
On Thursday (Dec. 15), the jury remained deadlocked on whether Ahmed Mohammed Shareef should be charged with murder or manslaughter in the Nov. 2020 shooting death of 23-year old Yousef Omar. The jury did, however, find Shareef guilty of racketeering with 20 others for operating a drug trafficking organization between the D.C. Metro area and Los Angeles, California.
Shareef is claiming self-defense and pleaded not guilty to all charges. He will be retried for the murder charge on February 16, Alexandria’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter told ALXnow.
“The jury trial was extremely lengthy,” Porter said. “It started the very beginning of November, and was a six-week trial. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury convicted him of racketeering, but was unable to reach a verdict on the murder charge. The case has been continued to February 16.”
Sentencing is being withheld for the racketeering charges until the conclusion of the upcoming murder trial. Shareef faces life in prison for the murder charge and up to 40 years for the racketeering charge.
Omar was found shot multiple times in the driver’s seat of a 2016 silver Mercedes E350 on the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 17, 2020. A firearm was found near Omar’s body, as well as numerous shell casings, indicating that he fired at his attacker. A half-hour after the shooting, Shareef checked himself into Howard University Hospital with a gunshot wound, police said in a search warrant affidavit.
The investigation of the drug trafficking organization resulted in the arrest of 20 individuals, including Shareef, and the seizure of $500,000 worth of marijuana, nearly $275,000 in cash, 23 firearms, cocaine and other drugs, digital scales, money counters, fake identifications and a number of vehicles.
“The investigation also revealed that the likely motive (of the murder) was over an unresolved drug debt and potential interference by the victim to pry customers away from the (drug trafficking organization),” police said in a search warrant affidavit.
A witness told police that they saw Shareef and Omar in the Mercedes, parked across the street from the Newport Village apartment complex near Fort Ward Park.
The witness saw Shareef “exit the vehicle and proceed to shoot the victim multiple times as he sat in the driver’s seat, striking him multiple times,” according to the search warrant affidavit. “The suspect then ran to a waiting vehicle, entering the front passenger seat and fleeing the scene.”
The incident was the third and final homicide of 2020.
A police investigation determined that Shareef and his co-conspirators ferried marijuana from Los Angeles to the D.C. Metro area in large suitcases on commercial airliners. In many instances, the suspect who checked the baggage in California would not get on flights and the bags, with different names on identification tags, would be picked up by other suspects in Virginia. The marijuana in the luggage was found in vacuum-sealed bags.
“The method included top tier traffickers purchasing flights for individuals and packing large suitcases with other materials to conceal large quantities of marijuana, ensuring that the bag was checked approximately 50 minutes before the flight left and would often be picked up by different individuals at DCA (Washington Reagan International Airport) and IAD (Dulles International) airports in the Commonwealth,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.
(The story previously said incorrectly that Shareef is defending himself. That is not accurate. He is instead claiming self-defense.)
A 23-year-old Loudoun County man is being held without bond after allegedly eluding police, crashing into a semi-truck on Interstate 95 and ditching a stolen gun, weed and a safe into a nearby ravine.
The incident occurred on the rainy evening of Thursday, October 6, after police received an emergency call from an apartment in the 2400 block of Mandeville Lane in the city’s Carlyle neighborhood, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Police responded to a domestic incident inside the apartment. The victim said they were afraid for their safety during an altercation, and that the suspect had a gun. As the suspect walked out of the apartment, the argument went into the hallway and the victim was seen tugging on the suspect’s shorts and a black handgun was observed falling from the suspect’s waist and onto the floor, police said in the search warrant affidavit.
The suspect was also allegedly carrying a two-foot-square black safe, and was seen by police fleeing the area in a gray Honda Accord. Police followed him, and said that he drove erratically, and that he fled after they tried to initiate a traffic stop.
“The above-described vehicle ended up crashing into another vehicle on I-95 South at Exit Ramp 174,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.
After the crash, the suspect got out of the Accord, and was seen throwing the safe into a ravine near the exit ramp. Police searched the area and found the closed safe, an ounce of marijuana in a plastic bag, a handgun and bullets — not yet sunken in the mud and within throwing distance. What was found inside the safe has not yet been made public.
The suspect was arrested shortly thereafter, and was found carrying $5,700 in cash. Police found that the gun was reported stolen by the Fairfax County Police Department, and that the suspect has been charged numerous times with felony possession with intent to distribute marijuana since 2017.
The suspect was charged with weapon possession by a convicted felon, domestic assault and battery, receipt of a stolen firearm, reckless driving, eluding police, and failing to use his headlights with his windshield wipers.
The suspect goes to court on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
A 23-year-old Alexandria man is being held without bond after allegedly pointing a handgun at his landlord in a West End apartment.
The incident occurred on the night of Sunday, September 18, in an apartment in the 2800 block of Seay Street.
The victim told police that his tenant, Khalil Gray, got into an argument with him at home. The victim told police that Gray has pointed the same gun at him multiple times during arguments over the last several months, and that Gray moved in when the victim’s son moved out of the apartment, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Gray was arrested on Monday, September 19, and charged with brandishing a firearm, assault and battery and two counts of violating a protective order. He goes to court for the offenses on November 28.
The apartment where the incident occurred is near Bishop Ireton High School and the intersection of Seay Street and Duke Street.
A man acquitted by reason of insanity for a brutal stabbing death in Old Town has been ordered to stay off all social media except LinkedIn.
The news came Thursday afternoon, after 38-year-old Pankaj Bhasin was ordered by the Alexandria Circuit Court to stay off the websites after lying about himself and his whereabouts during a period that he was in prison for murder.
Bhasin was conditionally released from the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services in May — four years after stabbing 65-year-old Brad Jackson to death with a box cutter. Bhasin said that he thought Jackson was a werewolf, and stabbed him 53 times. He was conditionally released on May 27, 2022, after being diagnosed as bipolar by five doctors and found not guilty by reason of insanity in July 2019.
After his release, Bhasin opened a Facebook page where he listed that he was in India at the time of the murder, according to court records. He also created dating application profiles and wrote that he’d recently returned from traveling for two years.
“I’m an easy going adventurer who believes in a universal connection with all and love to explore n try new things,” Bhasin wrote on a dating app, according to the motion to amend the terms of his conditional release. “Also, recently getting back from two years of travel…”
Bhasin also wrote that he is interested in “travel, kayaking, dancing, photography, camping, reading, concert n all things fun,” and that he has an ENFP-A personality — someone who is extraverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceiving.
Bhasin’s attorney, Peter Greenspun, sent out a statement that Bhasin is “doing extremely well,” but did not discuss the decision of the court. He said that Bhasin is remorseful for Jackson’s death.
“Mr. Bhasin is not on any social media or dating sites,” Greenspun said. “He has and will continue to follow all of the directions of the City of Alexandria Circuit Court.”
A review hearing is scheduled for December to assess Bhasin’s release.