A Philadelphia man is headed to trial for allegedly using his position as a PennDOT supervisor in Malvern to create false identities.
Khalif Abdullah Ali, 43, was employed at the Driver License Center in Frazer in 2011 when he allegedly shepherded three wanted felons through the process of creating fraudulent drivers' licenses using their photos and other men's information. In a preliminary hearing Wednesday, District Judge Chester Darlington upheld all charges against Ali, including multiple counts of tampering with public records, hindering prosecution and conspiracy to commit identity theft.
During the hearing, district attorney Priya De Souza introduced three folders as evidence—each containing driver's license records for one of the stolen identities. Tiffany Roadcap, a risk management officer at PennDOT, testified that she discovered the records had been manipulated.
"When I looked through the transaction history, I noticed it was a name change, which allows for new photographs," Roadcap said.
But the only change applied was the removal of a comma used to separate the first and middle names in the computer system. Roadcap said that, in surveillance video, Ali can be seen assisting the three men who were issued fraudulent licenses, and standing with the photo technicians as they take the photographs.
Ali's court-appointed attorney, Ana Frederick, asked whether the license-holder's previous photograph would be displayed during the process for verification. Roadcap said that it was always recommended that operators check current photos before issuing new ones, but it is not required and did not occur in the three cases at issue.
Roadcap said the only person who would definitely see the previous picture is the photo technician, before he or she takes a new one. If the technician notices a major difference, he or she would alert the supervisor, but that also did not occur in the video.
State Trooper Michael Peterson, from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Organized Crime Task Force, testified that he was able to confirm the identities of two of the men—Frank Smith Jr. and Tairek Thomas, who are co-defendants in the case—by scanning a mug shot database.
State Trooper Michael Venango of the Troop K Philadelphia Barracks testified that he had contacted the legitimate owners of the two licenses. Both indicated they had not given anyone permission to use their identities.
Defense counsel argued that the testimony failed to prove that Ali knowingly aided criminals. In Roadcap's testimony, Frederick said, the video revealed no unusual interaction between Ali and Smith or Thomas.
"There is no evidence that he knew of their violations or warrants, or even knew them at all," Frederick said.
Judge Darlington held all charges over for trial—a dozen third-degree felony counts and four misdemeanors—and set a formal arraignment for April 5 if Ali has posted bail or April 29 if he remains incarcerated.
Ali was unable to post $100,000 cash bail and was confined to Chester County Prison. At the preliminary hearing, Darlington said he did not have the authority to alter the bail, which was initially set at $20,000 cash then raised by the court of common pleas.