Knoxville/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 27, 2024
Knoxville Couple Sentenced for Crafting Over 100 Fake IDs in Tennessee SchemeSource: Google Street View

A Knoxville pair involved in a scheme of crafting over a hundred phony driver's licenses and IDs faced justice on Friday. Cheryl Huff, 49, the mastermind and one-time big shot at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, will cool her heels for 37 months behind bars. Not far behind, her partner-in-crime and hubby, Mario Paz-Mejia, 51, got slapped with 30 months. Following their stints in the clink, each will endure a year of supervised release, as if they were students needing hall passes.

It seems Cheryl Huff, while strutting around as a muckety-muck supervising the Greater Knoxville area's licenses, missed being on the level. As per the WVLT report, she was entrusted by the state with the power to issue these official papers. Huff and her other half, according to WATE, were peddling false hope for $2,500 a pop to those not lucky enough to be actual citizens or Tennessee locals.

Details from the Department of Justice hauled into the light of day, laid out how Paz-Mejia acted as the enticing fisherman, luring clients with the promise of genuine-looking Tennessee IDs. Not just satisfied with dishing out the fake IDs, the scheming salesman also provided his clientele with phony paperwork - right down to birth certificates and Social Security cards, as reported by WBIR.

With the couple's scam crumbling, the feds painted a damning picture. On one occasion, "Paz-Mejia texted Huff the name, date of birth, and personal information used on false identification documents, asking Huff to 'check that please.'" Huff, tucked in her office, shot back a text saying, "All of these are not on file. They’re good," all according to the DOJ's findings, per WBIR. They operated their con with impunity, ushering clients into Knoxville Driver Service Centers before the roosters crowed, thereby dodging lines and, they hoped, the law.

But as fate would have it, Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division, alongside an alphabet soup of federal agencies including Homeland Security Investigations and the United States Secret Service, caught wind of the operation.