PALM BAY, Fla. — Two Palm Bay Tag Office workers are accused of giving valid driver’s licenses to people who hadn’t earned them.
Florida Highway Patrol said it looked into this when the Hillsborough County Tax Collector Office tipped them off.
Investigators said 11 people from Hillsborough County received licenses with discrepancies.
Investigators arrested Misty Ziminsky, a tag office worker, and Ahmad Alhayajneh, an interpreter, on Friday.
Each person who received a fraudulent license was found to have used the Ziminsky and Alhayajneh, according to investigators.
Investigators said Alhayajneh gave answers to applicants on test and licenses were handed out without applicants taking the required physical driving test.
Investigators found nearly two dozen cases.
The Tax Collector’s Office said Ziminsky was fired. Alhayajneh has bonded out of jail.
A county worker and an interpreter are accused of handing out bogus driver’s licenses to people who never took the exam.
There are new concerns they were helping people stay in the country illegally.
The fraud scheme attracted people across the state.
Channel 9’s Blaine Tolison spoke to the Brevard County tax collector, Lisa Cullen, who said she’s not sure how far the scheme goes.
She said she believes the people who received fraudulent driver’s licenses overstayed their visas in the United States, but she’s not 100 percent sure.
A state and federal investigation is underway.
Cullen said Misty Ziminsky worked in her office for four years, but Cullen only realized in November that Ziminsky was handing out fraudulent driver’s licenses.
She reported it to the state.
“I think early on, it might have been one or two. It just escalated. I assure you, I take it serious and I will address every record,” said Cullen.
Last week, state investigators arrested Ziminsky, an examiner at the office, and Ahmad Alhayajneh, an interpreter who was not an employee.
Investigators found licenses from the Palm Bay office with discrepancies, including some without pictures or signature.
Last month, they discovered that Ziminsky and Ahmad were allegedly working together with Ahmad giving applicants answers on tests, and Ziminsky letting them skip physical driving tests altogether.
Cullen said it’s not clear what people were doing with the driver’s licenses.
“I have no idea. I can’t answer that, but I can tell you they won’t have them for long,” said Cullen.
She said she is working with the state to cancel any fraudulent licenses, but she admits they don’t know how many are out here.
The Florida Highway Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating, but neither agency would say if the people who received the licenses were being monitored by the government.
Cullen said changes have already been made to prevent any more fraud.
“I look at this as, we need to learn from it, and we’ll institute anything we learn throughout the county,” Cullen said.
Cullen has 170 employees and she said members of her staff at the main office are being interviewed as a precaution.
The office manager was suspended.