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Cape man pleads guilty to producing, distributing fake driver’s licenses

By Staff | May 27, 2011

A Cape Coral man pleaded guilty Thursday to producing and distributing fake driver’s licenses for more than two years, pocketing at least $1 million.
Brandon T. Albanito, 25, of 801 W. Cape Estates Circle, entered into a plea deal with federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to several charges, including:
— Two counts of unlawful production of false identification documents
— Two counts of unlawful transfer of false identification documents
— One count of using a fictious name to conduct unlawful business by means of the U.S. Postal Service
— Two counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from a specified unlawful activity
Albanito was indicted in July on the same charges, except he faced four counts each of unlawful production and unlawful transfer at that time. Each of those two charges carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The using a fictious name charge carries a maximum of five years, while the engaging in monetary transactions charges carries a maximum of 10 years.
On Thursday, Albanito also pleaded guilty to additional charges, including:
— One count of structuring currency transactions to evade reporting requirements, which carries a maximum of 10 years
— Two counts of possession of drugs with intent to distribute, which carry a maximum of 20 years each
— One count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, which carries a maximum of 10 years
Albanito faces a maximum of 145 years in prison if he is convicted on all of the charges and if he receives the maximum allowed for each.
“There’s certain consideration given if the defendant accepts responsibility prior to going forward because that saves the government time and effort,” William Daniels, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida, said.
No sentencing date had been set as of Thursday.
Daniels declined to comment on Albanito’s guilty plea, stating that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will comment after a sentencing has been handed down.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Michelland is prosecuting the case.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Frank Zaremba is representing Albanito. Zaremba did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.
According to court documents, Albanito produced and distributed fake driver’s licenses to underage teens in Wisconsin, Arizona, Indiana, North Dakota and California since at least August 2008. Using a referral e-mail account, he created the high-quality counterfeit licenses for $150 each.
In August 2009, he wired $83,020 to an automotive company in Texas for the purchase of a 2003 Ferrari. Two months later, Albanito bought the home on West Cape Estates for $317,500, the court documents state. In July, he was arrested on a federal warrant and a search was executed at his home.
Authorities seized in excess of $860,040 in cash, a loaded .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, marijuana, cocaine, MDMA powder or Ecstasy, hallucinogenic mushrooms and more than 4,000 empty pill capsules and small bags. He told authorities that he had made at least $1 million from his license scheme.
In the plea agreement, Albanito agreed to forfeit $868,040, a 2010 Lexus, his home on West Cape Estates, jewelry, an iPhone, numerous computers and software programs, a Caspian Arms .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and a Remington .45-caliber ammunition.