RMV worker accused of taking bribes from immigrants who wanted bogus driver’s licenses

Authorities allege this image shows Adriana Ferreira as she was counting bribe money provided to her during an undercover investigation by federal and state officials.
Authorities allege this image shows Adriana Ferreira as she was counting bribe money provided to her during an undercover investigation by federal and state officials.
Suffolk District Attorney

A Registry of Motor Vehicles employee was arrested at her workplace in Watertown today for allegedly collecting cash bribes worth thousands of dollars in return for falsely promising to provide illegal immigrants with driver’s licenses, officials said today.

Adriana Ferreira, a naturalized US citizen, is to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on charges of bribery, larceny, and corruption, according to Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and State Police.

Authorities late today released a photograph of Ferreira as she allegedly counted out cash provided to her as part of an undercover investigation.

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She has been under investigation since March 2011, when federal immigration officials discovered she was allegedly using her job at the Registry as a way to extort money from illegal immigrants, the agencies said in a joint statement this morning.

Ferreira allegedly convinced illegal immigrants that if they paid her $2,000, she would provide them with a valid Massachusetts driver’s license. She also claimed to have a connection with someone in ICE who could delay an illegal alien’s deportation — in return for a fee being paid to her, officials said.

According to the officials, ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility determined that “Ferreira had no interaction or contact with any ICE employees.’’ Officials also concluded that illegal immigrants “never received any licenses from the RMV or Ferreira.’’

Before she went to work for the registry, worked for the state court system beginning in 2005 when she was hired as a temporary account clerk for the Brighton Municipal Court.

She was hired full-time later that year and worked in Brighton until 2008 when she resigned, according to Joan Kenney, spokeswoman for the Supreme Judicial Court.

Conley spokesman Jake Wark said that Ferreira “used her prior employment in the Brighton clerk’s office to bolster her appearance of legal influence, but she is not charged with any offenses arising out of her employment there.’’

He said the investigation into her activities is ongoing, and that if anyone has information about her time at the Brighton courthouse, they should contact State Police assigned to Conley’s office at 617-727-8817.

According to authorities, Ferreira, 48, became known in the local Brazilian community as someone who could “fix things,’’ could get driver’s licenses for a price and could soothe over things with immigration officials to prevent deportation.

Ferreira allegedly charged between $500 and $4,100 for her service, but never delivered on her way to collecting about $8,600 from five people between 2009 and 2011, authorities allege.

Part of that sum, $800, came from Department of Homeland Security investigators conducting a sting operation, prosecutors said.

When victims realized Ferreira wouldn’t provide the documents, and confronted her, she threatened them by saying she would call immigration officials. In some cases she did call immigration, but it was unclear whether her contacting them led to any deportations.

Two victims did eventually call authorities, one contacting State Police and the other Homeland Security, officials said.

Somerville police also assisted in the probe.