ATLANTA - Federal authorities said a Snellville man participated in an elaborate scheme involving the Department of Drivers Services to issue licenses to more than 130 illegal immigrants
Investigators arrested Harikrishna A. Patel, 26, on Wednesday, charging him with identity theft and fraud for allegedly conspiring with former DDS driver's license examiners to issue the false documents last year. A federal grand jury later indicted Patel on multiple counts.
The alleged crimes meant illegal immigrants were able to obtain driver's licenses - and, in some cases, commercial driver's licenses for MARTA busses - without passing any tests or showing proof of legal residency in Georgia, authorities said.
United States Attorney David E. Nahmias called the case an example of "corruption in public employment" that he views as "intolerable."
According to Nahmias, Patel charged the illegal aliens between $7,000 and $8,000 each to assist with obtaining licenses through a DDS branch in Lithonia. The alleged transactions happened between January and August 2007.
Patel allegedly accepted illegal immigrants, who had been pipelined to Lithonia from Nashville, and led them to DDS license examiners who were in on the take, authorities said.
All told, 136 licenses were issued to unqualified applicants, Nahmias said.
Patel joins five other suspects from metro Atlanta and Nashville arrested by federal authorities this week. They include:
· Shijuanna V. Cobb, 33, of Ellenwood;
· Rickell M Patterson, 31, of Covington;
· Angela R. Read, 38, of Lithonia;
· Chardye M. Lloyd, 23, of Conyers;
n Satishkumar B. Patel, 48, of Nashville.
Additionally, Cobb, Patterson, Read and Lloyd have been charged in a separate indictment with conspiring to issue commercial driver's licenses to unqualified applicants, which were used to drive MARTA busses, authorities said.
Nahmias said the DDS is canceling all licenses involved in the case.
Nearly all the addresses on licenses issued to illegal aliens have turned out to be false or fraudulent. Investigators are searching for all but three suspects who were located in Nashville who received the licenses, authorities said.