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Police arrest Bellevue licensing worker accused of selling identification to immigrants
Authorities today arrested a Bellevue Department of Licensing employee who allegedly took part in a scheme to sell drivers licenses to immigrants.
Federal prosecutors have charged Melanie Yoder with conspiracy to commit unlawful production of identification documents and unlawful production of identification documents. FBI agents apprehended her at the licensing office shortly after noon, and she is due to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle later today.
Authorities this morning also arrested Brazilian immigrant Rodrigo Moura in Kirkland on the same charges.
A criminal complaint filed in the case says Moura was arranging for unqualified people to receive Washington drivers licenses and identification cards, which do not require proof of legal immigration. The state does require proof of residency for those documents.
Moura allegedly let applicants use his address for their paperwork, provided answers for test questions, and arranged for them to work on processing with Yoder at the Department of Licensing office in Bellevue.
Records show that Yoder issued 45 drivers licenses in June 2009 to individuals claiming to be from Brazil. That figure is unusually high, according to the Department of Licensing.
An investigation revealed that Moura was charging applicants $3,000 for help obtaining licenses, and that he paid around $500 per license to Yoder, according to prosecutors.
One applicant wore a recording device for authorities while making arrangements with Yoder.
Yoder allegedly told the man to ignore his number and then approach her counter later to say that the number was missed. This allowed her to process the man's paperwork and ensure he would get the identity documents, prosecutors say.
Conspiracy to commit unlawful production of identification documents is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Unlawful production of identification documents is punishable by up to 15 years in prison anda $250,000 fine.