Friday, May 24 2013 11:18 PM EDT2013-05-25 03:18:05 GMT
Several Indiana teachers put their lives on the line just a year ago when two F-4 tornadoes hit Henryville and destroyed the elementary and high school. When Henryville Elementary School Teacher KristiMore >>
Several Indiana teachers put their lives on the line just a year ago when two F-4 tornadoes hit Henryville and destroyed the elementary and high school.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:03 PM EDT2013-05-25 03:03:19 GMT
A female pedestrian is in the hospital after being struck by a vehicle on the northeast side of Indianapolis. The woman was hit on E. 34th Street, between Gladstone and Colorado, around 9:45 p.m. Friday.More >>
A female pedestrian is in the hospital after being struck by a vehicle on the northeast side of Indianapolis.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:59 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:59:56 GMT
The Indiana Pacers are trying to even the Eastern Conference finals in Miami. Indiana has opened up a 12-point lead late in the first quarter. Roy Hibbert leads the Pacers with eight points. LeBron JamesMore >>
The Indiana Pacers are trying to even the Eastern Conference finals in Miami.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:41 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:41:45 GMT
A couple from Elwood face charges after police say they found a marijuana growing operation in their basement. Stephen Stookey, 70, and Marilyn Stookey, 69, were arrested after police raided their homeMore >>
A couple from Elwood face charges after police say they found a marijuana growing operation in their basement.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:04 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:04:40 GMT
Two people are in custody after an incident where an IMPD officer fired his duty weapon. Police say officers were investigating an incident in the 3200 block of Boulevard Place when a suspect failed toMore >>
Two people are in custody after an incident where an IMPD officer fired his duty weapon.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:59 PM EDT2013-05-25 01:59:31 GMT
Indiana University President Michael McRobbie is recommending tuition and fee increases of 1.75 percent for Indiana residents in each of the next two years at the school's Bloomington campus. The universityMore >>
Indiana University President Michael McRobbie is recommending tuition and fee increases of 1.75 percent for Indiana residents in each of the next two years at the school's Bloomington campus.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:55 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:55:55 GMT
A Greenfield police officer is fighting to keep his vanity license plate. Rodney Vawter has owned the personalized Fraternal Order of Police license plate "0INK" for the past three years. A class actionMore >>
A Greenfield police officer is fighting to keep his vanity license plate after it was revoked by the BMV.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 6:44 PM EDT2013-05-24 22:44:52 GMT
Andretti Autosport has five cars in the top nine in Sunday's Indianapolis 500. Any of them could win the race. The team has already won three out of four INDYCAR races this season. One of the AndrettiMore >>
I'm picking Marco to finally add another win to the Andretti legacy at Indianapolis.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 6:32 PM EDT2013-05-24 22:32:12 GMT
One of our city's best-known landmarks could soon see some changes not just in the way it looks, but in the way it's used. Friday's Memorial Day service is one of many events that takes place on MonumentMore >>
One of our city's best-known landmarks could soon see some changes not just in the way it looks, but in the way it's used.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 5:58 PM EDT2013-05-24 21:58:56 GMT
East side residents are questioning the safety of a crosswalk where a pedestrian was killed by an IMPD cruiser Thursday night. Richard Allen Moore died after he was struck by IMPD Ofc. Jason Rauch atMore >>
East side residents are questioning the safety of a crosswalk where a pedestrian was killed by an IMPD cruiser Thursday night.More >>
13 Investigates exposed "backdoor branches" - local dealers doling out legal BMV tags and registrations to anyone with cash, no questions asked.
Now, after three years on the run, a mastermind behind one of those operations is headed to prison, convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud and harboring illegal immigrants.
It's a major development in a crime the BMV said it was powerless to stop.
Caught and convicted of fraud, Omar Duran Lagunes eluded IMPD and immigration investigators for years. Not anymore.
He is now guilty of exploiting Indiana business law to score license plates, car registrations and titles for illegal immigrants.
"He actually had plates and was offering them for sale, offering deals like $15 dollars for titles," said 13 Investigates Reporter Sandra Chapman as she recapped the investigation for BMV Deputy Commissioner Dennis Rosebrough.
"It was terrible. It was fraud. It was terrible," responded Rosebrough, who was well aware of the case.
13 Investigates went undercover in 2010 to expose how Lagunes and others exploited a direct pipeline to BMV auto documents.
Our investigation took us inside the inner workings of local "backdoor branches." One of them was a sheet covered, makeshift operation on West Washington Street, offering just about everything you'd find at a real BMV.
Inside, an Eyewitness News staff member asks, "My friend can buy plates here? Is it an Indiana plate?"
The broker behind the counter, Pedro Parma, confirmed, "Indiana plate, title."
Within a short time, our undercover staffer discovered fast cash and a few easy steps could put bona fide Indiana plates into the hands of those with no legal right to have them.
The broker shows off the scores of license plates he recently purchased.
"Placa esta legal...It's legal right?" questioned our staff member.
"Yeah," assured the broker.
Here's how it worked:
The customer goes online and creates a business - a limited liability company or partnership.
Then, with a click on the IRS website, "the business" gets a federal employment identification number.
All that's needed now is a signed power of attorney. It allows the backdoor broker to walk into the nearest license branch and get plates and everything else for a business vehicle.
No questions asked and no way of knowing who is getting plated.
13 Investigates confronted the broker about the idea of putting plates into illegal hands.
"I don't know who's legal or who's not legal. It's not my business to find out who's legal or who's not legal," the broker responded.
Individuals in Indiana must have a valid social security number to register or title a motor vehicle in the State of Indiana. But business entities are not required to have a social security number.
"The BMV was a victim, quite candidly," said Rosebrough, who says his agency must provide the documents requested under law if the appropriate forms are provided.
A spokesman from the Indiana Secretary of State's office says it can't deny a business from incorporating, either, if someone presents the right documents and pays the required state fees.
The BMV discovered Lagunes signed off on hundreds of registrations and no one knew where they were really going.
"That activity was a violation of Federal law," said Rosebrough, referring back to the misrepresentations federal authorities found in the filing information.
IMPD raided Lagunes' second-floor apartment after witnesses reported customers lining up outside his door for BMV services.
Confidential search warrants obtained by 13 Investigates reveal what was found inside: license plates and documents, signs blatantly advertising in both Spanish and English: "We manufacture plates."
He offered deals, including "All the titles you need $15" or "plates on special, $50 dollars" and worse yet, evidence of something more troubling.
"What they seized was a large number of Federal identification numbers, registration documents," confirmed former BMV Commissioner Andy Miller in 2010.
But Duran himself vanished, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security and IMPD on his trail.
They found him in Elkhart, running operations again. This time, he sold documents to undercover agents and his backdoor brokers were caught, charged and convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud for making false representations to obtain motor vehicle registrations, license plates and titles and all the while concealing and harboring illegal aliens.
Omar Duran Lagunes is awaiting sentencing, which is set for June.
The BMV is now requiring social security numbers for limited partnership business registrations to eliminate potential fraud.
Gary Hartwig, Special Agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago said, "These individuals abused legitimate government services and circumvented the nation's immigration laws" to make a profit.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IMPD, Elkhart Police, Indiana State Police, the BMV and the Secretary of State's office all participated in the joint investigation.
Friday, May 24 2013 11:46 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:46:25 GMT
A woman faces sentencing Friday for her part in the shooting death of a female basketball star. The shooting happened last July at Ben Davis Park on the city's west side. Witnesses say Vincennes UniversityMore >>
A woman faces sentencing Friday for her part in the shooting death of a female basketball star.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:19 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:19:14 GMT
Police are seeking criminal charges against two missing campers who were found on the Indiana National Guard's Camp Atterbury. Bartholomew County sheriff's Maj. Todd Noblitt says the two men, ages 19More >>
Bartholomew County sheriff's Maj. Todd Noblitt says the two men, ages 19 and 20, were found Wednesday after a ground and air search for several hours by police officers and soldiers of the Atterbury grounds near Edinburgh.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 5:02 PM EDT2013-05-24 21:02:40 GMT
A pedestrian was seriously hurt after being struck by a police officer on the east side of Indianapolis. The accident happened around 9:30 p.m. Thursday near the intersection of 42nd Street and EmersonMore >>
The family of Richard Allen Moore told Eyewitness News that he was killed in the accident.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:29 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:29:00 GMT
Authorities say a cat might have started a central Indiana house fire by knocking over a lamp. The fire happened Thursday in the town of Chesterfield just east of Anderson. Chesterfield deputy fire chiefMore >>
Authorities say a cat might have started a central Indiana house fire by knocking over a lamp.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:22 AM EDT2013-05-24 15:22:46 GMT
It will likely be months before a judge rules on whether a new trial should be granted to a man convicted of killing an Indiana University student who disappeared during a 2000 bike ride. A Morgan CountyMore >>
It will likely be months before a judge rules on whether a new trial should be granted to a man convicted of killing an Indiana University student who disappeared during a 2000 bike ride.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 4:20 PM EDT2013-05-23 20:20:10 GMT
One of Indiana's largest health systems says it's cutting an undisclosed number of jobs by June 30 because of increasing economic and competitive pressure on the health care industry. Indianapolis-basedMore >>
One of Indiana's largest health systems says it's cutting an undisclosed number of jobs by June 30 because of increasing economic and competitive pressure on the health care industry.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 3:37 PM EDT2013-05-24 19:37:35 GMT
An act of credit card fraud has been traced back to a downtown Indianapolis restaurant. Some workers upstairs love walking downstairs for a bite at Ike and Jonesy's downtown. But they say the bite isMore >>
The owner of Ike & Jonesy's downtown says he is working to find out how the credit and debit cards of several customers and employees could have been compromised.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 10:26 AM EDT2013-05-24 14:26:01 GMT
Officials with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tell Eyewitness News that 35 runners from the Midwest who did not complete the Boston Marathon because of the tragedy there will be finishing that race atMore >>
The Speedway invited runners to cross the finish line on race day morning before the start of the race. They will be running from Turn Four across the historic Yard of Bricks.More >>