Dozens charged in Pa. driver's license scam

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Pictured: Robert Banks, who was charged with obtaining and selling fraudulent Pennsylvania driver&#39;s licenses. Picture provided by the Pennsylvania Attorney General&#39;s office. </span></div>
May 12, 2009 3:46:05 PM PDT
A grand jury report on fraudulent Pennsylvania driver's licenses criticizes the Department of Transportation for putting customer service ahead of security. RELATED PICTURES: See the suspects in this investigation
RELATED INFORMATION: Read the grand jury report
RELATED INFORMATION: Affidavit of probable cause

The grand jury estimates there are thousands of people out their with fraudulent drivers licenses.

90% of them statewide were issued by Philadelphia license centers like the one on Island Avenue.

On Tuesday, the state attorney general raked PennDOT over the coals.

"I think what PennDOT has done is sacrificed security and many different issues for customer service," said Attorney General Tom Corbett.

Corbett says PennDOT's goal was to get people in and out of its photo licensing centers as quickly as possible.

He says that has lead to gaping holes in security safeguards, with multiple licenses issued to convicted felons using various aliases.

But even worse, he said, in a post 9/11 world, PennDOT's lax security provides an easy in for potential terrorists.

"We have had conversations with homeland security. But, we can't go into that," said Corbett.

The investigation began more than four years ago. Since then, 45 people have been arrested for drivers license fraud.

They include some of the city's most notorious criminals like James Drayton and Cassius Broaster, both of them using multiple aliases after beating murder raps.

The latest person hauled in is 33-year-old Robert Banks of North 20th St. Investigators say he was charging his customers $1,250 for fradulent drivers licenes.

He got them through a loophole allowing military personnel to apply by mail.

The grand jury report says it's all the result of "profound and dangerous deficiencies in PennDOT's security."

Corbett says criminals use multiple licenses to hide from the law, commit fraud, and to get guns.

"That gives people a clean ability to go in with a driver's license and say 'Here, Mr. Gun Dealer, I want to buy these guns and here's my driver's license,' and it would not reflect they have a criminal record," Corbett said.

PennDOT says it has been cooperating with the grand jury investigation and has already implemented many of the Attorney General's recommendations.

But Corbett says, despite those measures, the crooks are still getting fraudulent licenses.

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