Witnesses testify in New Mexico driver's license fraud trial
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The trial for a Chinese man accused of helping more than 50 people in the country illegally get New Mexico driver's licenses heard testimony Tuesday from federal agents agents assigned to the case and a man who allegedly received help.
Hai Gan, 56, is believed to have used his New Mexico properties to help people fraudulently obtain driver's licenses by using those addresses to provide proof of residency.
According to testimony from a man he allegedly helped, Gan would advertise his services on a chinese newspaper.
The man said he found an ad in Houston claiming to provide legal help in renewing or obtaining a driver's license.
"I read the newspaper and I saw somebody could help so I called," the man said.
He said due to changes in Texas, he was unable to renew his driver's license in the state where he resided.
After calling the number on the ad, he testified Gan, who was using a different name, asked him for legal proof of identity through a social security card, passport and his then expiring Texas driver's license.
He testified after paying $800 for an unsuccessful attempt at renewing his Texas license, the man who he had never met in person, suggested they try in New Mexico.
He said he was told to purchase insurance for a property in Albuquerque and testimony throughout the trial revealed that property belonged to Gan.
While on the stand the man said he brought his legal forms of identification to a home in Albuquerque and signed a rental agreement at the direction of Gan.
He said Gan then drove him to obtain his driver's license with a set of prepared documents and did receive a New Mexico driver's license.
The prosecution asked the man if he knowingly knew he was committing fraud.
"Right, I was cheating," said the man.
The defense claimed Gan asked clients to provide legal documents such as driver's licenses, social security numbers and passports for the application process so legal status in the country was never questioned by Gan.
The defense argued Gan just helped people meet what was required in New Mexico to obtain driver's licenses as stated through Motor Vehicle Division requirements.
Federal agents assigned to the case also testified they found photocopies of driver's licenses when Gan's home outside a Dallas suburb was searched.
"It meant the defendant had come into contact with those licenses after being issued," said an HSI agent.
Federal prosecutors said the people Gan helped at times were not in New Mexico and Gan mailed them the licenses afterwards.
The defense argued Gan made copies as proof he had done the job he was hired to do and kept those as records as any good businessman would.
Agents also testified they also found utility statements from several of Gan's properties with different people's names.
The defense said that was simply proof there was utilities at those properties and the homes were adequate to live in.