New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang today announced that an investigation of a construction worker found using a fake OSHA card on a major state infrastructure project in Manhattan has led to the arrest of two individuals who allegedly engaged in a widespread scheme to distribute fake identification documents.
Michael Kruise Williams, 30, of Mamaroneck, was charged January 20 with one count of Conspiracy to Commit Fraud Relating to Identification Documents, one count of Production of False Identification Documents, one count of Bank Fraud and one count of Aggravated Identity Theft. Pedro Vasquez, 28, of the Bronx, is being arraigned today with one count of Conspiracy to Commit Fraud Relating to Identification Documents and one count of Transfer of False Identification Documents.
“Workers on major construction projects are required to have proper training and OSHA certification in order to ensure worksites are safe for everyone,” said Inspector General Lang. “Our office uncovered a scheme to provide fake credentials to circumvent these critical safeguards, which led to a widespread fake ID operation. Thanks to the work of our office and multiple partners, we have shut down this fraudulent act. Meanwhile, we will continue to provide critical oversight of state infrastructure projects to identify and resolve any issues that may jeopardize safety and integrity.”
“These arrests are the result of the thorough multi-agency investigative work required to take down these types of fraudulent schemes, which ultimately jeopardize worker site safety due to greed,” said Port Authority Inspector General John Gay. “The Port Authority is proud to be a partner in this effort and we remain committed to ensuring the safety of all throughout our region.”
“As alleged, Williams and Vasquez were involved in a lucrative criminal enterprise of stealing people’s identities and selling fraudulent identification documents including driver’s licenses, social security cards, and OSHA safety cards, and solicited customers by brazenly posting their illicit sales on social media platforms,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York Acting Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel. “HSI and its partners will continue to seek out and bring to justice individuals that attempt to turn a profit by selling fake documents that can compromise the health and safety of those working at a job site or allow the bearer to illegally represent themselves by compromising the integrity of government identification documents.”
The New York State Inspector General’s Office provides integrity oversight and monitoring for major state infrastructure projects, including the Jacob Javits Center Expansion Project and the Moynihan Train Hall in Manhattan. Construction workers on such major projects in New York State are required to undergo certified safety training before they begin work.
In March 2019, a private compliance and risk monitoring firm for the Javits Center expansion project informed the Inspector General’s Office that a worker presented a fake Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) card purporting to certify that the individual had completed a safety course. While the card had the appearance of a valid credential, the Inspector General’s Office reviewed an OSHA database and learned that the card was fake. The worker was removed from the site, as project management reviews workers’ credentials on an ongoing basis. The Inspector General’s Office began an investigation and found that the worker obtained the fake OSHA card from Vasquez and paid him via Cash App.
The Inspector General’s comprehensive investigation found Williams produced fake driver licenses, Social Security cards, and OSHA cards at an office in Norwalk, Connecticut using an ID printer and holograms purchased from China. Vasquez then advertised the fake documents on the internet and sold them for thousands of dollars in, among other places, the Bronx.
In October 2019, an investigator with the Inspector General’s Office texted Vasquez purporting to need an OSHA card. Vasquez agreed to provide the false OSHA credential, requested the investigator’s full name and date of birth, and arranged a time and place to meet. An undercover investigator then met Vasquez in the Bronx and purchased the fake OSHA card for $150. Over the course of the next several months, the undercover investigator made additional purchases of fake identification from Vasquez, including additional OSHA cards, Social Security identification cards, and driver licenses from several states. The Inspector General’s Office and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey captured surveillance – including audio and video – of each transaction.
The Inspector General’s investigation found multiple Facebook posts by Vasquez advertising the sale of fake documents. In one post dated January 4, 2017, Vasquez wrote, “I GOT EM OSHA POPPIN WHATS THE WORD.” On March 19, 2019, Vasquez posted “Osha cards same day process n scaffold lets go SHARE THIS PLZ OR TAG FRIENDS.”
A review of Vasquez’s Cash App account found multiple payments from individuals seeking false documents, as well as payments to Williams totaling approximately $61,000.
The investigation found that Williams purchased several items, including an ID printer and blank ID cards from a Florida-based company. Williams also sent approximately $115 via PayPal to a recipient in China with the transaction note reading “20 New Jersey, 10 Florida, 10 Connecticut, 10 PA.” He sent additional payments to the same recipient for holograms for identification cards.
In July 2020, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received information from Customs and Border Protection officers at the JFK Mail Facility regarding the seizure of a package intended for Williams containing laminates with holograms resembling those used on driver licenses in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida.
In February 2021, agents from the Inspector General’s Office, HSI and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executed search warrants of Williams’ residence and office, where they recovered several items, including credit cards in multiple individuals’ names, an ID card printer, more than 1,000 holograms from various states, approximately 3,000 blank ID cards, approximately 11 packages of laminate sleeves, three fake Social Security cards, more than 100 fake ID cards, several dozen fake OSHA cards, and a U.S. passport in another individual’s name.
In chat messages stored on a hard drive seized from Williams’ residence via search warrant, Williams wrote to another individual:
- “I bought the holograms too from China,” “I know it serious[,] But I don’t promote to nobody[,]” “Only deep criminals”[,] “Just got the lastest [sic] templates,” “Also offer Birth Certificates … Employee ID’s … Credit Cards … Employment Authorization Card … NYPD Card … US Passport.”
- “Got the holograms today by the way … I got 5 states for now … 10 EACH FOR THESE FOLLOWING STATES[:] NJ[,] CA[,] TX[,] FL.”
- “Busy doing the orders I had for the ID’s …. Bro I had tons of orders before[e] the id printer came. I was nervous cuz I took a lot of ppl money.”
Inspector General Lang thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District for prosecuting the case. The Inspector General also thanked Homeland Security Investigations, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General for participating in the investigation. The Inspector General also thanked the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the New York City Department of Probation and the Village of Mamaroneck Police Department for assisting in the investigation.
The investigation was handled by Deputy Inspector General in Charge of the New York City Office Jessica Silver, Senior Investigative Counsel Jessica Haaz, Investigator John Slevin, Chief of Investigations of the New York City and Hauppauge Offices Ben Defibaugh, Director of Audit for the Downstate Regional Office Giovanni Liotine, Senior Investigators Anne Peters and Jimmy Gibson, and Investigators Nyah Paul and Micheal O’Sullivan.
The defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.