Honduran citizen latest to admit selling thousands of fraudulent temporary Texas license plates

By: U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas
| Published 05/10/2023


HOUSTON, TX -- A 41-year-old woman who illegally resided in Houston has admitted to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Leidy Areli Hernandez Lopez pleaded guilty to conspiring with others residing in the Southern District of Texas and elsewhere to buying and selling thousands of fraudulent Texas-issued temporary buyer tags. None of the paper tags issued were for legitimate vehicle purchases and some were for cars outside of Texas.

Lopez and co-conspirators used the internet to buy and sell the fraudulent state-issued buyer tags and exchange proceeds from the illegal tag sales.

As part of her plea, Lopez acknowledged she and her co-conspirators communicated through email to send and deliver fraudulent buyer tags to purchasers all over the United States, including New York and Washington, D.C.

She also admitted her co-conspirators submitted falsified information to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a fraudulent used car dealer license in order to print and sell state-issued buyer tags and shared the fraud proceeds via electronic payment services such as Cash App and Zelle.

U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks Jr. accepted the plea and will impose sentencing Oct. 2. At that time, Lopez faces up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

Lopez was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.

Emmanuel Padilla Reyes aka Christian Hernandez Bonilla or Noel Rivera is still a fugitive. The FBI is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone providing information that directly leads to his arrest. Those with information about the fugitive’s location should call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

The FBI conducted the investigation with assistance of Travis County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office, Houston Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police and New York City Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Belinda Beek and Adam Goldman are prosecuting the case.

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