RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The mastermind behind an elaborate plan to get illegal immigrants Virginia driver's licenses will spend more than 14 years in prison. It's a case that still has investigators tracking down all of the people with these fake ID's.
Dozens of illegal immigrants in the Richmond area were said to be driving around and working -- in fact, some still are. Today in court, the woman behind it all, Cynthia Salamanca, said she was "remorseful and sorry".
Not an easy day in court for the family of Cynthia Salamanca. They had to say goodbye, likely for more than 14 years, with hugs, kisses and a lot of tears.
Starting back in 2008 -- investigators say Salamanca would buy social security cards and Puerto Rican birth certificates from U.S. citizens she knew and sell them to illegal immigrants. She ended up with documents from between 50 to 100 U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico. Judge Henry Hudson said in court today -- he's never had a case like this before.
"As the judge said in his ruling, it actually affects us as a cancer. It affects the institutions we all trust," said Fernando Groene, Salamanca's attorney.
Salamanca eventually teamed up with a former Chesterfield DMV employee to enter false information into the state system; between 25 to 50 illegal immigrants ended up with Virginia driver's licenses.
Salamanca's attorney pleaded with the judge saying his client cooperated with the investigation and accepted responsibility promptly.
"There was no violence in this case. No intimation. No coercion. There is a certain element of green but at the same time, there is an element to assist people, improve their life while in this country," Groene said.
But that didn't help.
Years ago -- DMV made driver's licenses much more secure. The DMV says this is an isolated incident. And managers routinely check employee transactions to ensure this doesn't happen again.
We can't show you Salamanca's picture because it's federal policy not to release mug shots. The former DMV employee is set to be sentenced in April.