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Former MVA Employee Indicted for Bribery, Misconduct

dollar-897092_640-300x300The Maryland Attorney General’s Office recently announced the indictment of three individuals for their alleged roles in an identity theft scheme at an MVA branch in Baltimore City.  The individuals were indicted back in April and the scheme allegedly took place in 2022.  It is not entirely clear why the AG’s Office waited until July to report the indictments, but all three cases are still in the early stages of prosecution.  While all three defendants face felony identity theft scheme and bribery charges, only one defendant has been charged with misconduct in office.  This defendant, a 34-year-old woman from Baltimore City, was a MVA employee at the Reisterstown Road branch office.  She allegedly conspired with two custodians, who were contracted to perform janitorial services at the branch, to sell drivers’ licenses and learners’ permits for cash.

It turns out that one of the custodians allegedly advertised the scheme on Instagram, which seems like a decision she’ll regret. The Instagram post reportedly offered up the licenses and permits for a fee of $600 and included a free test taker for the written portion of the exam.  This test taker was of course one of the co-conspirators who is accused of taking as many as 66 tests under the guise of an actual applicant.  The former MVA employer oversaw the tests and is accused of knowingly allowing her co-conspirator to take the tests for a portion of the proceeds.  Under Maryland law bribery is charged when a person accepts or solicits a bribe.  The two custodians face bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery charges while the former state employee faces one bribery count and the aforementioned misconduct in office charge.

Bribery cases are relatively uncommon in Maryland courts, and as a result tend to be treated with more attention and scrutiny.  Bribery always involves at least two people, and one must be some sort of public employee or officer.  Public employees include those working for state or local government entities.  In cases where a bribe is offered and accepted the public official and the person offering the bribe would generally be charged as co-defendants.  In attempted bribery cases the public employee often reports or arrests the other party on the spot when dealing with police officers.  Bribery and attempted bribery are considered the same offense under Maryland criminal law 9-201.  The maximum penalty for this offense is 12 years in prison including a 2-year mandatory prison sentence.  Since the statute does not specifically say the mandatory portion cannot be suspended there is no mandatory jail sentence in practicality.  Public officials who are accused of accepting bribes with typically face more scrutiny from the court system, but anyone charged with this offense has an uphill battle to stay out of jail and keep a clean record.

All three of the co-defendants face felony identity theft charges that carry up to 10 years in prison. Unlike many identity theft cases there does not appear to be third party victims.  The co-defendants where not defrauding other individuals but rather were defrauding the drivers’ license system.  While no victims suffered financial harm as we routinely see in ID fraud cases, the State will likely argue that the scam endangered the lives of numerous motorists by allowing unqualified drivers to obtain a license.  The State will likely also argue that the former MVA employee should be held to a higher standard than an everyday citizen based on her responsibilities as a public official.  This is where the misconduct in office charge will come into play.  Under Maryland law misconduct in office is considered a common law misdemeanor with no specific maximum penalty other than it must not be cruel and unusual.  There are three elements that the State must prove to establish a case for misconduct in office.  The defendant must be a public officer and he or she must have acted in an official capacity or taken advantage of his or her public office.  Finally, the State must prove the defendant acted corruptly.  Corruption is generally defined as acting with depravity, perversion or taint, and accepting money is the most common means to prove corruption.

Anyone facing charges for bribery and misconduct in office faces the very real possibility of being made an example.  The unfortunate result is that defendants are often treated unjustly, and far more harshly than the conduct demands.  Maryland misconduct in office lawyer Benjamin Herbst will fight to assure all his clients are treated fairly and will not hesitate to make the State prove each and every element of the crime at trial.  Benjamin also specializes in Maryland bribery cases and has successfully handled hundreds of conspiracy, identity fraud and theft charges in state and federal court.  He is available 7 days a week at 410-207-2598 to offer a free consultation about your case.


Three indicted for identity theft scheme at Maryland MVA,

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