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Tuesday, December 19, 2023
Chinese Illegals: CNMI DMV Chief Convicted of License Fraud
By News Release @ 3:04 PM :: 1692 Views :: National News, Ethics, World News

Bureau of Motor Vehicle Chief and PRC Citizen Sentenced to Federal Prison for CNMI Driver’s License Fraud Scheme

News Release from U.S. Attorney's Office, Districts of Guam & the Northern Mariana Islands, Monday, December 18, 2023

Saipan – SHAWN N. ANDERSON, United States Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, announced that defendants, Juana Cabrera Leon Guerrero, a U.S. citizen and resident of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Yongde Li, a citizen from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), were sentenced in the United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands for their roles in a driver licensing fraud scheme at the CNMI Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

Juana Cabrera Leon Guerrero (age 58) – convicted of Conspiracy to Produce an Identification Document, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(1), was sentenced to 60 months incarceration, ordered to pay a $15,000 fine and $100 special assessment fee, and serve three years of supervised release following imprisonment.

Yongde Li aka “Ivan” (age 50) – convicted of Conspiracy to Produce an Identification Document, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(1), and Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1349 & 1344, was sentenced to 10 months incarceration, ordered to pay $200 in special assessment fees, complete 50 hours of community service in lieu of a fine, and serve five years of supervised release following imprisonment.

In December 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed a search warrant at the headquarters of the CNMI Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the BMV while investigating a scheme to unlawfully produce driver licenses.  The criminal conduct involved foreign nationals, who lacked lawful immigration status, paying a “street broker” up to $1,700 for a new license and $300 for a renewal. 

CNMI law requires proof of U.S. citizenship or valid immigration status before the issuance of a driver license.  Street brokers used fraudulently manufactured immigration documents, submitted to the BMV, to enable foreign nationals without immigration status to acquire licenses.  As Chief of the BMV, Leon Guerrero knowingly permitted Ivan to submit these applications, with fraudulent immigration documents, on at least 50 occasions between January 2020 and December 2022.  No other documentation or testing was included.  Leon Guerrero also directed at least five BMV employees to unlawfully assist Ivan in acquiring these licenses.

In exchange for her cooperation with Ivan, Leon Guerrero accepted $500 cash payments from Ivan and others for these illegal transactions.  Ivan also treated Leon Guerrero and other complicit BMV staff members to meals and free taxi services. 

“This scheme created a substantial risk to public safety,” stated United States Attorney Shawn N. Anderson.  “Licensing requirements help reduce the risk of harm to other drivers and pedestrians on our roadways.  We expect a higher standard of conduct from public officials.  This case sends a strong message of accountability.”

"The FBI will not condone government workers who use their position of trust for their own ill-gotten gains," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven Merrill. "This sentence should serve as a warning to others that the FBI will investigate these types of cases to the fullest extent of the law."

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Albert S. Flores, Jr., Assistant United States Attorney in the District of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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