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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Van Nuys

27 Arrested in Fraud Sting at Area DMV Office

April 23, 1999|ANDREW BLANKSTEIN

Investigators arrested 27 people during a three-day fraud investigation that targeted the state Department of Motor Vehicles office in Van Nuys, officials said Thursday.

The sting--prompted by complaints from the public, insurance companies, law enforcement and the courts--is designed to curb the use of fraudulent or counterfeit documents to obtain vehicle registration, California driver's licenses or identification cards, said Vito Scattaglia, commander of the DMV Division of Investigations.

Following the operation, which began Tuesday and concluded late Thursday, at least 27 people were cited for making false statements to the DMV, a misdemeanor under the state vehicle code, authorities said.

Noel Sandoval, a 19-year-old Mexican national, was arrested on three felony counts, including perjury and filing false documents, DMV senior special investigator Greg Huber said. If convicted, authorities said Sandoval could face up to five years in state prison.

"The majority of the public are submitting valid documents, but as many as 15 people a day are trying get by fraudulently," Huber said. "In the long run it drives up costs because there are so many people driving without valid insurance."

Huber said the DMV's statewide interdiction program, which maintains the security and integrity of the agency's documents, randomly targets two to three offices at a time.

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