New York State Inspector General Letizia Tagliafierro announced the arrest of a New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office assistant who illegally accessed DMV records of family members and other individuals for personal financial gain
Wanda Turner, 53, of Troy, an Office Assistant 1 in the Title Bureau at DMV’s Swan Street location in Albany, was arraigned in Albany City Court before Hon. Joshua Farrell on charges of Computer Trespass (E Felony) and Official Misconduct (misdemeanor). She has been suspended by the DMV.
Turner’s job duties include reviewing title applications and supporting documents for completeness and accuracy. However, the Inspector General’s investigation found that Turner, a DMV employee for 20 years, allegedly charged individuals between $40-$50 per transaction – essentially a personal convenience fee – on top of existing DMV charges to produce driver abstracts and other documents, which removed the need for the individuals to physically appear in DMV offices.
The investigation also found that Turner allegedly accessed records of estranged family members and an ex-boyfriend to obtain addresses and other personal information in violation of the Drivers Privacy Protection Act and DMV policies. Over the course of six months, Turner conducted at least 225 unauthorized DMV database searches for information on herself and individuals known to her.
“This individual allegedly misused her taxpayer-funded position to create a ‘side hustle’ where she illegally accessed DMV information and produced official documents while essentially charging her own convenience fee,” said Inspector General Tagliafierro. “According to complaints, she also illegally accessed personal information of certain family members and her ex-boyfriend. My office’s investigation uncovered the scheme and she will no longer be able to abuse her position for her own financial gain and personal agenda.”
According to the DMV, Turner received training regarding rules, policies and laws addressing the use of personal information maintained by the DMV, including the Drivers Privacy Protection Act (18 U.S.C. § 2721); the DMV’s Code of Conduct; and the contents of the DMV’s Employee Handbook. Additionally, Turner has received annual training in “Protecting DMV Records.” DMV policies also provide that any work done for friends and/or family of an employee should not be done by the specific employee.
Inspector General Tagliafierro thanked the Albany County District Attorney’s Office for prosecuting the matter and the New York State Police for conducting the arrest. She also thanked the DMV for cooperating with the investigation.
The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.