Dept. of Public Safety Employees Indicted for Identity Theft

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Hattiesburg, Miss. Two employees of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety have been arrested, accused of federal identity theft.

U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis says 48-year-old Yolanda Jean Perkins, of Laurel, and 55-year-old Deborah Payton Stewart, of Waynesboro, each face two counts of conspiracy to commit identity theft and one count of identity theft.

Davis says the women were arrested and arraigned on the federal indictment Wednesday. It was not immediately known whether either woman has an attorney.

They allegedly took part in a scheme to provide illegal aliens with genuine state driver's licenses obtained by using legitimate identification documents stolen from U.S. citizens.

If convicted of all charges, they face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Homeland security special agents also arrested Lorena Gomez, 33, a U.S. citizen, and 13 illegal aliens in Laurel.

In a news release, Davis said the case is the result of an investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations. He did not provide details of their alleged scheme.

According to the complaint filed in federal court, Gomez is charged with stealing the identities of U.S. citizens and then providing their identity documents to approximately 70 illegal aliens since November 2013. The aliens then allegedly obtained valid Mississippi driver's licenses under the citizens' names using the fraudulent documents. The two arrested Mississippi Department of Public Safety employees are accused of conspiring with Gomez to sell driver's licenses to aliens who purchased identity documents from Gomez.

If convicted, Gomez faces a maximum penalty of up to 15 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Mississippi.

The federal charges stem from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations (MBI).