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Former Parole Officers Accused of Selling Worthless ID Cards

Former Parole Officers Accused of Selling Worthless ID Cards

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Two former Adult Probation and Parole officers have been accused of selling worthless identification cards to immigrants.

Piero Ortiz, 40, of Taylorsville and Eric Koellner, 33, of Kearns were charged Wednesday with forgery and theft by deception.

The cards, claiming to be "international drivers' licenses," went for as much as $700 each and at least 200 were sold, Sgt. Wade Breur of the Utah Department of Public Safety said last week.

An undercover officer purchased an ID for $375, said Lt. Tony Garcia, supervisor of fraud investigations for the state Bureau of Investigations.

The pair claimed they were selling valid IDs that could be used to drive, register and insure vehicles, but the licenses did none of these things, Garcia said.

He said international drivers' licenses don't really exist. However, an international driving permit is a legitimate document when traveling abroad, but only when used along with a state-issued driver's license.

"You can go to AAA, a legitimate place, and purchase an (international driving permit) for $10," Garcia said.

Garcia said most of the victims were illegal immigrants living in Utah and surrounding states who had purchased the licenses after hearing advertisements on a Spanish radio station for a company called "Metro Probation Professional Services."

Garcia said the Mexican consulate had received complaints from Mexican citizens who had purchased the IDs and had unsuccessfully tried to use them.

Neither defendant was working as a probation officer at the time. One had been fired last April for an unrelated issue, and the other had resigned in December 2002, said Jack Ford, Department of Corrections spokesman.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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