By Matt Miller – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gonzalo Montanez had quite the scam going.
When he was cited repeatedly for driving without a license under the name Braulio DLeon, he simply got one under the Montanez name.
He secured a commercial truck driving license using that name, too.
His con worked for years until, in 2017, PennDOT used facial recognition software to confirm DLeon and Montanez were the same person and that neither persona had a legal right to drive a car, let alone a tractor-trailer.
Yet, when Montanez challenged PennDOT’s suspensions of his his ill-gotten licenses, he argued that his rights were being violated because the agency should have discovered his illicit identity switch sooner.
A Commonwealth Court panel disagreed.
Nor did it accept Montanez’s contention that he didn’t know he had twice been hit with license suspensions under the DLeon name. Instead, Judge Ellen Ceisler wrote in the court’s opinion, it is evident Montanez adopted the Montanez identity to hide the fact that DLeon lacked a license to drive.
Montanez, who also had a third alias, Alfonso Rodea, appealed his latest license suspension to Ceisler’s court after a Berks County judge upheld the penalty.
According to Ceisler, Montanez was cited for driving without a license under the DLeon name in 2008 and 2010. He claimed he never got PennDOT’s notices of those license suspensions, but Ceisler cited evidence the notices were mailed to the address Montanez gave for DLeon. Besides, she noted, he should have known he shouldn’t be driving since he pleaded guilty to driving without a license charges in the 2008 and 2010 cases.
Another reason Ceisler found Montanez’s claim that he didn’t know about the DLeon suspensions to be false was that he adopted the Montanez identity to obtain his regular and commercial driver’s licenses in 2013 and 2016, respectively. By creating the new identity he appeared to have a clean driving record.
The facial recognition software uncovered his scam when he applied to renew his license in 2017.
In challenging his latest suspensions Montanez claimed it was PennDOT’s fault that he wasn’t caught sooner. He insisted his due process rights were violated because his licenses should have been suspended for the fraud years earlier.
“Essentially, (Montanez) argues that although he acted unlawfully and intentionally in deceiving (PennDOT) by using multiple fraudulent identities, (PennDOT) was at fault because his intended deception succeeded for several years,” Ceisler wrote. “Not surprisingly, (Montanez) cites no authority whatsoever for this argument. We reject it as baseless and improper.”