DMV worker faces prison for ID fraud

August 25, 2008 12:07:30 PM PDT
A Santa Rosa woman was sentenced to 16 months in prison this morning for conspiracy and attempting to provide driver's licenses and state identification cards to illegal residents through her job at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau denied probation for Aida Pulido and imposed the minimum state prison term. Pulido had faced up to three years in prison.

Deputy District Attorney Jane Murray told the judge that Pulido, as a government employee, took advantage of and defrauded four individuals and attempted to circumvent the licensing system for personal gain.

Murray said the individuals, who were from the East Bay and San Francisco, went to see Pulido at the DMV Office in Santa Rosa.

Deputy Public Defender Barry Collins said he was not asking for "a slap on the wrist" but that Pulido would be "an exemplary candidate" for probation.

Chouteau rejected probation. "When the government is for sale, the community falls apart," he said.

Pulido was convicted in May of one felony count of conspiracy and four misdemeanor counts of attempting to provide driver's licenses or identification to those not entitled to them.

A second defendant, Teofilo Arechiga Palomera, 61, of Pittsburg, was also convicted of the same charges. He failed to appear in court at his sentencing in July and a no-bail warrant has been issued for his arrest. Murray said today he is still at large.

A third alleged conspirator, Ubaldo Morales, 39, of Bay Point, allegedly collected the money from the undocumented immigrants on behalf of Pulido and Morales. Morales failed to appear in court for his trial and a $20,000 warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua said Palomera would find Hispanic individuals without legal residency and promise them a valid state driver's license or identification card in exchange for $1,500 to $2,000 in cash.

Palomera would then send them to Pulido, who worked as a field representative processing driver's license applications at the DMV, Passalacqua said.

Four people testified at Pulido's and Palomera's trial that Pulido entered a code in the DMV system indicating they showed her their U.S. birth certificate, Passalacqua said.


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