Anthony A. Ferrer, 48, of New York, N.Y., was charged in a 43-count state grand jury indictment with conspiracy, official misconduct, computer theft, theft by deception, bribery, and use of personal identifying information of another, all in the second degree, as well as numerous third-degree counts of motor vehicle title offenses, tampering with public records or information, and forgery. The second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison.
A customer service representative for the MVC at the Washington MVC Agency in Warren County conspired to process two of the fraudulent New Jersey titles for Ferrer, in return for which Ferrer allegedly paid her $5,000. The former MVC employee, Yukeam N. Cousins, 44, of Washington, N.J., pleaded guilty on May 25 to third-degree tampering with public records or information and faces a recommended sentence of 364 days in the county jail and five years of probation.
The investigation began with a referral from the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, which resulted from the MVC’s Facial Scrub program. In Operation Facial Scrub, the MVC uses state-of-the-art facial recognition technology to review the millions of photo records in its database and identify any duplicative photo records that may indicate administrative errors or customer fraud. A facial scrub analysis revealed photographs of Ferrer associated with multiple identities. The MVC referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, which conducted the investigation.
“Ferrer allegedly stole nearly a quarter of a million dollars from auto financing companies in a span of just over a year,” said Acting Attorney General Porrino. “Beyond that, he allegedly bribed an MVC clerk to assist him in his criminal activities. We’ll continue to aggressively prosecute motor vehicle document fraud, which is a serious crime that can compromise public safety and security.”
“Those who fraudulently obtain official documents from the MVC frequently are involved in identity theft and other criminal activity, such as the theft scheme charged in this case,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “When the MVC ferrets out alleged con artists like Ferrer through its Facial Scrub program, we stand ready to prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”
“This investigation reaffirms the value of a driver’s license as a breeder document and the need for the MVC to maintain the security and integrity of its operations,” said Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond. P. Martinez. “Complacency is not an option, which is why we continue to invest in technology, training and internal controls that help us to identify and crack down on criminal activity.”
The state’s investigation revealed that Ferrer submitted fraudulent applications for identification to the MVC using the identifying information and multiple identification documents in the names of two other real persons. As a result, he received a New Jersey non-driver’s identification card and a driver’s examination permit in the name of one of the men, and two driver’s examination permits (one for a motorcycle) and a Class D digital driver’s license in the name of the second man.
The investigation further revealed that he used the two stolen identities in connection with a scheme in which he obtained and titled vehicles in one name in New York, and then fraudulently transferred title into a second name in New Jersey – or, in one instance, in Georgia – while in most cases removing liens from the titles related to financing that was provided for the purchase of the vehicles. Ferrer is charged in connection with nine vehicle titles that allegedly were obtained through fraud in New Jersey. In eight of the nine instances in which vehicles were re-titled, he allegedly used one of the two stolen identities either for the New Jersey vehicle title or the prior title.
Ferrer allegedly submitted fraudulent lien release letters in connection with seven of the nine New Jersey vehicle titles. The liens on those seven vehicles totaled approximately $239,820. That is the basis for the charge of theft by deception. He sold four of the vehicles, including a BMW X6 that he allegedly sold for $29,000 after fraudulently removing a lien for $62,950.
Ferrer currently is being held in the Brooklyn Detention Complex in Brooklyn, N.Y., on charges filed by the New York County District Attorney’s Office related to similar criminal conduct in New York State.
Deputy Attorney General Michael King presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Andrew Johns and Bureau Chief Jill Mayer. The lead investigators for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau were Detective Nicholas Olenick and Investigator Ruben Contreras, under the supervision of Lt. William Newsome.
Acting Attorney General Porrino thanked Investigator Jake Williamson of the New Jersey MVC Security and Investigations Unit and Sgt. William J. Planeta and Detective Erik Sherar of the New York City Police Department Special Investigations Division for their valuable assistance in the investigation.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Warren County, where Ferrer will be ordered to appear in court at a later date for arraignment.