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Convictions in Case where North Carolina License and Theft Bureau Partnered with State and Federal Agencies

Two Men Sentenced to Prison for Producing and Selling False Identification Documents

STATESVILLE -The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles' License and Theft Bureau teamed with officials from various state and federal agencies to arrest five individuals involved in multiple crimes, including producing and selling false identification documents.

License and Theft Inspector Dean Davidson and Lieutenant Joe Moody led the District 7 unit, which incorporated several inspectors throughout the course of the investigation. District 7, which is based in Newton, is one of eight License and Theft Bureau districts across the state. They assisted Homeland Security Investigation, Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Catawba County Sheriff's Office and Sparta Police Department in the investigation.

Two men involved in the ring that produced and sold false identification documents were sentenced to prison on Tuesday, August 5, by U.S. District Judge Richard L. Voorhees.Crescencio Lopez-Cruz, 28, of Newton, was sentenced to 48 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release. His brother, Wilber Lopez-Cruz, 25, also of Newton, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release.

Crescencio and Wilber Lopez-Cruz pleaded guilty in July 2013 to conspiracy to produce and transfer fraudulent identification documents, producing fraudulent identification documents and aggravated identity theft. Crescencio Lopez-Cruz also pleaded guilty to transferring fraudulent identification documents, falsely representing a Social Security number and making false immigration documents.

Three others involved in the conspiracy have already been sentenced. The defendants' brother, Sixto Lopez-Cruz, 20, of Newton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce and transfer fraudulent identification documents and was sentenced in May 2014 to time served and to one year of supervised release. The defendants' sister, Rosalba Lopez-Cruz, 21, of Newton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce and transfer fraudulent identification documents and falsely representing a Social Security number. She was sentenced in May 2014 to time served plus one year of supervised release. The defendants' brother-in-law, Mario Tercero-Cruz, 34, also of Newton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to produce and transfer fraudulent identification documents and was sentenced in May 2014 to time-served and to one year of supervised release.

Law enforcement began investigating the conspirators in September 2012 for their involvement in an illegal scheme to produce and sell false identification documents in Newton and elsewhere. The false documents included alien registration cards, immigration residency cards, Social Security cards and state licenses. According to court records, some of the false identification documents contained fictitious information and some contained "real" information of individuals whose identities had been stolen. Court records showed that, typically, the defendants took photographs of their customers and incorporated them into the counterfeit documents. Depending on the type and quality of documents, customers paid anywhere from $200 to $650 per transaction.

According to court records, while executing a search warrant at Crescencio and Wilber Lopez-Cruz's residence, law enforcement seized equipment used to produce the fraudulent documents, including a computer, a printer and a laminator.

***NCDOT***

2/15/2018 5:23 PM

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