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County worker profited by selling drivers licences, permits

By Debra Barayuga
Honolulu Star-Bulletin

HONOLULU – A Maui Motor Vehicle Division employee has admitted to selling driver's licenses or learner's permits for between $50 and $100 each to people who did not take either written or road tests.

Renee P. Danley, 40, told the FBI on Friday that on 20 occasions in 2003, she improperly issued Hawaii state driver's permits and licenses to individuals and did not scrutinize the information they provided on their applications.

She was charged in a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court yesterday with producing false identification records, a felony punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison.

After an initial appearance in U.S. District Court yesterday, Danley was expected to be released on bond, her attorney Howard Luke said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Muehleck did not oppose Danley's release, which was recommended in a pretrial services report. He would not comment further on the case. A preliminary hearing has been set for April 2.

According to an affidavit, Danley's alleged activities surfaced after the state recently compared existing Hawaii driver's licenses with the Social Security Administration's database.

Maui's Motor Vehicle Division learned that Danley had allegedly issued 71 driver's licenses improperly at the Makawao office. Only six of the original 71 applications could be located. Ten applicants had used nonexistent Social Security numbers. Forty-one had used Social Security numbers that did not belong to them. The records show that 22 individuals received driver's licenses based on nonexistent licenses from out of state.

Further research also uncovered deficiencies ranging from nonpayment of fees to lack of road test results in the applications for 20 individuals.

And on at least 13 occasions, Danley noted in computer records that a road test had been conducted by an examiner when the examiner was not working on that date, FBI special agent M.D. McDonald said in his affidavit.

The state recently began using an online verification system developed by the Social Security Administration that allows the state to compare information provided on driver's license applications to information stored in the federal database. The system can identify applicants using fake Social Security numbers or numbers that do not belong to them. It can also detect discrepancies in the applicant's name, birth date and sex.

Ellen Pelissero, public information officer in Mayor Alan Arakawa's office, said they could not comment on Danley's case because it is a personnel matter and under investigation.

"The county is cooperating fully with the FBI," she said.

Danley was questioned by FBI agents Friday based on the discrepancies uncovered by the Motor Vehicle Division.

Keith Regan, Maui finance director, and Carmelito Vila, Motor Vehicle Division licensing manager, had discussed the discrepancies with the FBI on Feb. 18.