Three More Sentenced as Part of Bureau of Motor Vehicle Fraud Ring
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Ohio
August 19, 2010
Vitaly Fedorchuk today was sentenced to 46 months in prison for his role as leader of a ring that sought to bring foreign nationals to Cleveland, Ohio and help them fraudulently obtain real Ohio driver’s licenses for a fee, Steven M. Dettelbach, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and C. Frank Figliuzzi, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today.
To date, 16 people associated with the criminal enterprise have been found guilty while two other people charged remain at large.
Fedorchuk, 40, of Cleveland, was found guilty of federal conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents and information.
Co-conspirator Pavlo Mostranskyy, 46, of Cleveland, was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Sonya Hilaszek, also 46 and of Cleveland, was also sentenced to 33 months in prison earlier.
“This was a textbook example of law enforcement working together to stamp out fraud,” Dettelbach said. “These are strong sentences and they send a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated.”
Mostranskyy, Hilaszek, and Fodorchuk were arrested after a lengthy investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Department of Public Safety-BMV Investigations Section, Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States Department of Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigative Division, Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, and the Cleveland Office of the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Kall.
This investigation started in December 2007 when information was received that individuals in the Cleveland Ukrainian community were involved in a scheme to bring foreign nationals to Cleveland and help them fraudulently obtain real Ohio driver’s licenses for a fee, issued by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) by a Deputy Registrar working for this criminal organization.
The investigation focused on Fedorchuk who was identified as the leader of the criminal organization; Hilaszek, a corrupt employee at the Deputy Registrars Office in Parma; and Mostranskyy, who acted as a middle-man bringing the foreign nationals to Cleveland. Other members of the organization were based in several cities throughout the U.S and worked with and for Fedorchuk and Mostranskyy to identify and facilitate customers through the operation.
An undercover FBI agent was able to fraudulently obtain a real Ohio Driver’s License in August of 2008 for $3000 from this criminal organization. The investigation showed that this criminal organization operated for at least four years, charging foreign nationals, most of whom are unlawfully present, between $1,500 and $3,000 for Ohio driver’s licenses, and Ohio state identification cards using either fraudulent documentation or none at all.
During the course of the U.S.-based investigation, the investigators here in Cleveland discovered evidence that the criminal group in Ohio were working with criminal counterparts in Ukraine. Together, they fraudulently obtained United States non-immigrant visas for Ukrainian nationals who then traveled to Ohio and other points in the United States. The visas were obtained from the United States Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, allegedly through corrupt Ukrainian national employees of the U.S. Embassy. The investigative team from Cleveland, the FBI’s Legal Attaché’s Office in Kyiv, and Diplomatic Security Service Special Agents assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine investigated the Ukrainian criminal group jointly with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Organized Crime Department over the course of many months. The criminal group allegedly charged each visa applicant $12,000. As a result of the joint international investigation, seven members of the Ukraine-based criminal organization, including two Embassy employees, were officially detained today in Ukraine by investigators of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs for violation of Ukrainian laws.
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