Four sentenced in driver's license scam

ATLANTA -- A Snellville man and three codefendants were sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to selling fraudulent Georgia driver's licenses.

Harikrishna A. Patel, 28, will serve two years in federal prison and three years of supervised release for his role in the scheme, authorities said, and was also ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and pay a $6,000 fine.

According to Acting United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates, Patel sold 136 licenses, for up to $7,000 each, to illegal aliens and other people who did not qualify for them.

Between January and August 2007, authorities said, Patel conspired with three driver's license examiners who worked at the Georgia Department of Driver's Services Service Center in Lithonia to pull off the sham.

Yates said that Patel would send customers to the Lithonia location, where the three examiners would issue licenses without testing applicants or requiring them to show proof of residency.

Patel would then share the money he collected with his co-conspirators.

The licenses, which were all canceled once the scheme came to light, were all issued in the last name "Patel" and contained fictitious addresses, authorities said.

Federal authorities said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is working closely with local and federal authorities to shut down operations like this one.

"Counterfeit identity documents like the ones produced by this ring can be used by criminals (and) essentially anyone who's seeking to mask their identities and hide their true intentions," said ICE Special Agent in Charge Kenneth Smith.