A federal jury in the case of a Chinese man who allegedly helped more than 50 immigrants secure New Mexico driver’s licenses found him guilty of 64 charges.
Hai Gan, a legal immigrant and resident of the Dallas area, could face up to 55 years in prison if found guilty of all the charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico.
Gan has pleaded not guilty to 51 counts of fraud in connection with identification documents, eight counts of transporting undocumented immigrants, three counts of money laundering and two counts of witness tampering.
“If there was a case of too much evidence of the defendant’s guilt, this is it,” U.S. attorney Randy Castellano told the jury.
Defense attorney Francisco Ortiz argued that his client interpreted New Mexico’s driver’s license law — which allows undocumented immigrants to obtain a license if they prove they live in New Mexico — literally. Gan assumed he was doing nothing wrong, Ortiz said.
“No one intentionally thought they were committing a crime,” Ortiz said.
Several states have recently moved to adopt laws that allow undocumented immigrants to seek a driver’s license or similar permit. Altogether, 11 states and Washington, D.C., let immigrants apply for a license or legal permit to drive, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.