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
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 at 10:25 a.m.) An Arlington defense attorney has been arrested and charged with allegedly stealing credit cards from an Alexandria office building multiple times last year.
The attorney is charged with credit card theft and credit card fraud, both as felonies, and another credit card fraud misdemeanor charge.
“The charges arose from the alleged theft of credit cards from an Alexandria office building on multiple occasions in 2022,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said in a release, “and the alleged subsequent use of the cards at multiple locations in Alexandria and Arlington.”
The attorney was arrested in February for the fraud charges, along with charges from Arlington County including grand larceny with intent to sell, possession of stolen property and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. The total maximum penalty for all charges would be around 96 years if found guilty.
The attorney was suspended by the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board in November and now faces a disciplinary Bar hearing hearing for misconduct.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Alexandria is handling the prosecution of both Alexandria and Arlington’s charges. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 19.
A teller at the Alexandria DMV Customer Service Center (2681 Mill Road) has been charged with credit card fraud after allegedly using a stolen Visa gift card to pay for the license renewal of a friend.
The 40-year-old woman was arrested on credit card fraud charges on September 2, more than three months after a wallet with credit cards was stolen from a car in Loudoun County.
The incident occurred on May 28 in front of a house on Cardinal Flower Lane in Aldie, Virginia. The victim reported to police that her Kate Spade wallet with multiple credit cards was stolen and that the cards were then used to buy five Visa gift cards at three separate CVS stores in Maryland, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The incident occurred about 25 miles from the suspect’s home in the 100 block of Lynhaven Drive.
Two of the gift cards were used by two male suspects at a Lowe’s in Fairfax County that same day, May 28. The following day, a male suspect used another of the cards at a Walmart in Fairfax County. Neither of the alleged accomplices have been charged.
The suspect works as a teller at the Alexandria DMV Customer Service Center (2681 Mill Road), and on June 2 allegedly used one of the stolen Visa gift cards to pay for the license renewal for a friend, according to a search warrant affidavit. Police were able to see video of the transaction, which shows the suspect reaching over the counter to pay for the renewal with one of the gift cards.
“DMV law enforcement was able to video and documents of the transaction, including a DMV Teller Transaction Audit of the event,” police said in the search warrant affidavit.
The suspect was arrested on September 2 and released the same day on a $2,000 bond.
An Alexandria couple pleaded guilty to conspiracy in relation to filing false tax claims for their Maryland-based auto body repair shop, and have been ordered to pay $2.2 million in restitution.
Ercin Kalender, 60, and Lizette Kalender, 44, own Butch’s Auto Body in Capital Heights, and were ordered to pay the $2.2 million as part of their plea agreement, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Between 2015 and 2018, the Kalenders kept two sets of books — one set with actual revenues, and another with lower reports of taxable income that were sent to the Internal Revenue Service.
“The corresponding tax loss to the IRS for the four years was $2,219,602,” DOJ said in a release.
The couple, who were trying to sell the shop in 2018, were busted in a sting operation in 2018. An undercover federal agent posed as a potential buyer and both Ercin and Lizette Kalender revealed a longstanding practice of underreporting revenue and income.
“Further, Ercin explained that while Butch’s filed tax returns showed $2.2 million in gross receipts, the actual gross receipts were closer to $3.1, $4.2, and $3.9 million for the fiscal years for 2015, 2016, and 2017; respectively,” according to DOJ. “Ercin also informed the agent that Lizette also reported sizable W-2 income, which helped them evade scrutiny by the IRS… In 2019, after the Kalenders became aware of the IRS’s investigation, Butch’s reported gross receipts of more than $4.5 million, an increase of more than $2.2 million over the fiscal year 2018,”
Additionally, the couple paid a portion of their employees in cash and falsely reported wages to the IRS.
“In a conversation with the undercover agent, Ercin stated that he paid all his employees’ extra compensation in cash to avoid tax obligations except for one secretary who was not paid under the table,” DOJ reported.
The couple go to court for sentencing on May 26 and face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and three years of supervised release.
Alexandria Police are looking for a man who bought a luxury car with a fake driver’s license at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria.
On August 29, the suspect walked into the dealership and picked out a 2021 Lexus LS400 and provided the salesperson with an Oklahoma driver’s license, according to police. The customer also allegedly told the salesperson that he’d recently relocated from Oklahoma to Richmond.
“The customer provided insurance document(ation) issued by AAA Insurance listing his current residence in Richmond,” police said in a search warrant. “The dealership completed a credit history check using identification for (the victim) and approved the customer for financing to complete the purchase.”
Police added, “The customer purchased the vehicle and drove the vehicle off the dealership’s parking lot.”
The next day, August 30, an Oklahoma man called the dealership asking about a credit check that was made the day before in his name. The man said he didn’t buy a car at Lindsay Lexus of Alexandria and sent along a photo of his driver’s license. The photos didn’t match, as the victim is an older white male and the suspect is a Black male.
The vehicle was later recovered in Henrico, Virginia, and returned to the dealership.
The suspect has not been arrested.
A 31-year-old Fairfax County man was arrested for credit card theft and fraud last month after allegedly finding a wallet in the parking lot of the Bradlee Shopping Center and going on a spending spree.
On May 24, the male victim reported to police that he was the victim of fraud after losing his wallet in the parking lot. He said that someone made $423.99 and $1,097 purchases at a Target store in Falls Church, and then $314.96 at a T-Mobile store at 247 S. Van Dorn Street.
Police went to both the Target and T-Mobile stores and saw surveillance footage of the suspect buying numerous products and then driving away in a blue Honda Accord, according to a search warrant affidavit. They then looked up the car’s license plate number and saw that the car belonged to the suspect’s wife.
Police called the suspect’s wife, who provided them with her husband’s phone number, according to the affidavit.
The suspect was arrested on August 8 and charged with credit card theft and credit card fraud. He was released on bond the same day.
Alexandria Police are investigating the scamming theft of more than $15,000 from a woman who says she believed she was applying for a Community Services Block Grant.
The victim reported that she was contacted by a Facebook friend on July 24, and was unaware that her friend’s profile was compromised. The supposed friend told the victim that she was eligible for a $100,000 CSBG grant, and then referred her to a grant agent named Thomas Johnson, police said in a search warrant affidavit.
“The agent then required (the victim) to purchase numerous gift cards from Apple and eBay to complete the grant transaction on numerous occasions between July 24, 2021, and August 4, 2021,” police said in a search warrant.
The victim ended up buying $12,900 in Apple gift cards and $2,300 in eBay gift cards, police said.
On August 20, police tweeted about various methods scammers will use.
The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office also recently warned residents about scammers, and victims are encouraged to report incidents to the police at 703-746-4444.
SCAM ALERT! If you get a call from someone saying they work for the Sheriff’s Office and that you have to pay money because of a warrant or any other reason, HANG UP! Real law enforcement agencies in Virginia will never call and demand money. https://t.co/ttDvQGooHN
— Alexandria Sheriff (@AlexVASheriff) August 23, 2021
Scott Shaw named Chamber’s 2021 Business Leader of the Year — “For the last six years, he has served as a partner of Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP). ARP operates nine restaurants including The Majestic and Theismann’s Restaurant… Outside of the restaurant industry, Shaw established Founders Hall and co-founded ALX Community. His community involvement includes serving as Chair of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. In this position… In 2017, Shaw founded the Tall Ship Providence Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving Alexandria’s rich maritime history through educational programs and entertainment.” [Zebra]
Rep. Beyer says he’s working on securing stormwater management funding for Alexandria — “I’m also working to secure more federal funding for storm and sewer projects in ALX in upcoming infrastructure legislation.” [Twitter]
Alexandria accountant pleads guilty to tax fraud — “An accountant from Alexandria pleaded guilty Wednesday for his role in filing false tax returns that led to over $250,000 in federal tax loss.” [Patch]
Recent T.C. Williams High School graduate dies at 18 — “Tommy Lacey was a towering figure. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, he was a gentle giant with a passion for sports and hanging out with friends at Al’s Steakhouse in Del Ray. A standout lacrosse player, the 2021 graduate of T.C. Williams High School was preparing to attend James Madison University in the fall when he died unexpectedly on Aug. 4.” [Gazette]
Today’s weather — “Partly cloudy. High 91F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Scattered thunderstorms during the evening becoming more widespread overnight. Low 72F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]
New job: Crew member at Trader Joe’s — “If you have a passion for people and a fervor for food, we’d love to meet you. We can teach you the rest.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Police have identified a suspect allegedly responsible for the theft of two credit cards at the Get Air Trampoline Park at 340 S. Pickett Street in the West End.
An employee of the park, who has not been charged, admitted to police that he was working alone when he found two credit cards and then charged each $1,000 to his personal Cash App account.
The employee told police that on July 8 he found two credit cards that customers left behind, and then “used the credit cards to transfer money to his personal business Cash App/Square Inc. virtual wallet account,” according to a search warrant affidavit. “More specifically, (the suspect) stated that he manually entered the customers’ credit card numbers onto his Cash App/Square Inc. account using his personal cell phone.”
Both customers were initially charged less than $20 for their visits.