YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A high-tech facial recognition program that “scrubbed” 19 million New Jersey driver’s licenses turned up 600 potential criminal cases, of which more than three dozen have already led to prosecutions.
Among those snagged by “Operation Facial Scrub” are 50-year-old Raymond Pompey of Hackensack, who obtained a license to drive a commercial bus in the name of his dead cousin, Edward Rivers, after his license was suspended six times for traffic infractions and failing to appear in court, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Pompey, who was indicted by a state grand jury yesterday, also has a felony record for identity theft, fraud and forgery.
Records show he was involved in a series of alleged frauds at DMVs and Social Security offices in New York State in which authorities said he tried to collect his dead cousin’s Social Security disability payments, as well as a driver’s license, records show.
This was after he already obtained a Maryland driver’s license in his cousin’s name.
Rivers, who was from Maryland, died in November 2010, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Pompey is being held on a combined $110,000 bail, with detainers that prohibit his release. He was arrested and charged earlier this month by Hackensack and Lodi police with a host of wrongful impersonation-related charges, records show.
Those already prosecuted also include other “truck and bus drivers who have no business being on our roadways and registered sex offenders who tried to hide their criminal pasts,” said Stephen J. Taylor, director of the state Division of Criminal Justice.
So far, “Operation Scrub” has led to indictments or criminal complaints against five sex offenders and 29 people who obtained fraudulent licenses after their real licenses had been suspended — including 22 charged with DUI offenses, half or whom have three or more.
Eight of the cases involve the use of false identities to obtain commercial driver’s licenses to drive trucks or buses. The cases also include several defendants who owed child support or were ineligible for a New Jersey driver’s license.
Among those caught:
(The full list is below.)
“A driver’s license is a powerful document that enables the holder to open financial accounts, obtain and drive motor vehicles, and board airplanes,” state Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.
“We know the 9/11 terrorists had fraudulent licenses from other states,” Chiesa added. “By detecting individuals who have false licenses, law enforcement can potentially uncover other types of crime that these individuals may be involved in, including identity theft, financial fraud and even terrorism.”
Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez added that the security tool “really provides us with that extra edge to thoroughly comb through our records and identify everything from simple record errors to more egregious acts of fraud.”
State authorities said the roundup has produced:
Chiesa said these are just “the first wave” from the 669 potential cases referred by the MVC to the Division of Criminal Justice.
“These cases will be the subject of further investigations and potential prosecutions by the Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Police and the 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices,” he said.
“Local police departments may also be asked to assist in the investigations.”
DEFENDANTS CHARGED BY DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
AS A RESULT OF OPERATION FACIAL SCRUB
(CDL = Commercial Driver’s License. Suspension = Suspension of Driver’s License)
As results came in from the initial scrub, the MVC expanded the sharing of its valuable Operation Facial Scrub information by establishing the Aggregated Investigative Reporting Service (AIRS) in June 2012. This system, featuring users from 22 state and federal agencies, allows strategic sharing of information with partners that may be susceptible to fraudulent activity committed by the same individuals already investigated by the MVC. With real-time access to the information, the agencies can review and evaluate the identified individuals and pursue cases as well.
The MVC, the Division of Criminal Justice, and the New Jersey Office of Information Technology have implemented a secure AIRS website, which serves as a central clearinghouse for key information on potential criminal fraud suspects identified through Operation Facial Scrub.
Attorney General Chiesa commended the attorneys and detectives who have worked on the criminal investigations. They include Deputy Attorneys General Debra Conrad, Lilianne Daniel, Mary Erin McAnally, Valerie Noto, Krystle Nova, Jacqueline Olivadoti and Anthony Torntore of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau; Detectives Cecil Boone, Franco Cignarella, Michael Duffield, Sean Egan, Christian Harden, Kelly Howard, Joseph McCray and Nicholas Olenick of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau; and Detectives Douglas Adams, Aaron Auclair, Enrique Bryan, James Carnival, Bryan Catterson, James Mitchell, Jeovanny Rodriguez, Keith Roslan and Wanda Stojanov of the New Jersey State Police. Attorney General Chiesa also commended all of the individuals who worked on the cases for the MVC.
Chief Administrator Martinez and Attorney General Chiesa thanked the New Jersey Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Information Technology (OIT), the MVC Division of Security, Investigation & Internal Audit and the various other internal divisions that assisted the MVC in implementing Operation Facial Scrub.
“In addition to scrubbing the 19 million photos in the system, the MVC is working diligently to maintain the integrity of the database through a nightly scrub of all new photos taken at its 39 agencies statewide,” Chiesa said. “This ensures that attempted fraud will be identified and stopped quickly.”