GREENVILLE — A former driver’s license examiner at the Division of Motor Vehicles office in Lumberton has been sentenced to prison for taking bribes in exchange for issuing fake IDs to people, and two other people have pleaded guilty to helping him.
Pablo Sarmiento, 53, of Church Street in Fairmont, was sentenced in federal court in Greenville to six months in prison and two years supervised release with special conditions, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Sarmiento pleaded guilty in January to a felony count of Social Security fraud for an offense that occurred on Aug. 17, 2011, the spokeswoman said. Two other people, Francisco Salome-Ramirez and Jamie Cortes-Gonzalez, have pleaded guilty to Social Security fraud and eluding examination and inspection by immigration.
Salome-Ramirez, 41, of Beam Road in Lumberton, was sentenced last week to 10 months in prison and three years supervised release. Cortes-Gonzalez, 31, of N.C. 20 in St. Pauls, is awaiting sentencing.
Salome-Ramirez and Cortes-Gonzalez obtained forged and duplicated Social Security cards, birth certificates and other identification documents that belonged to real people, according to the indictment. The documents were then sold to people so they could obtain photo identification, including state-issued ID cards and driver’s licenses. Salome-Ramirez and Cortes-Gonzalez then allegedly charged the people a fee to steer them to Sarmiento’s workstation at the DMV office.
The indictment says that Sarmiento was paid by Salome-Ramirez and Cortes-Gonzalez to approve and process the photo identification based on the fake documents.
According to the indictment, once the individuals received the photo identification, they were able to assume the identity of the people whose identifies were stolen.
A DMV spokeswoman said that Sarmiento had been a DMV license examiner in the Fayetteville district from May 8, 2004, to Oct. 6, 2011, when he resigned. He had been on leave since Sept. 30 during an investigation, she said.
According to court documents, Salome-Ramirez and Cortes-Gonzalez are illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. from Mexico through Arizona, in 2001 and 1996, respectively.