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Posted Friday, June 1, 2007
Billerica man, Michelet Joacine, bolts, then convicted in license scam
By Lisa Redmond, Lowell Sun Writer

CAMBRIDGE -- Police are searching for a 37-year-old Billerica man who bolted from his trial hours before a jury convicted him of bribing Registry of Motor Vehicles clerks to obtain false driver's licenses.

Michelet Joacine, a native of Haiti, had attended the four days of testimony in Middlesex Superior Court last week while free on $40,000 cash bail. He did not appear in court last Friday.

After two hours of deliberations on Friday, the jury found Joacine guilty in absentia of two counts each of paying bribes and uttering records.

Officials said they believe Joacine has family in Florida. Joacine will be sentenced when he is found.

In May 2004, State Police assigned to the Attorney General's Office arrested Joacine and two other former temporary Registry employees after a seven-month investigation. It was alleged the three were involved in accepting bribes for driver's licenses for people who weren't eligible for a legitimate license.

Authorities discovered that at least 100 licenses were illegally issued in exchange for bribes of $2,500 per license.

The Registry clerks worked in a branch in Melrose and a satellite office at the Cambridgeside Galleria during 2003.

Registry officials noticed someone suspicious and referred the investigation to the AG's office. The investigation revealed that Joacine recruited clients in need of a driver's license.

At a cost of $2,500 he would provide forged documents necessary to obtain licenses. A portion of the money would be paid to the clerks.

On May 7, Fridnel Lerick, 28, of Providence, R.I., was sentenced to one year in jail followed by three years probation. Lerick, a former clerk at the Registry in Chinatown, was found guilty of falsifying 17 driver's licenses, attempted falsification of two operator's licenses and two counts of identity theft.

Anyone with information about Joacine's location is encouraged to contact the State Police at 617-727-2200.

The Lowell Sun 491 Dutton St. Lowell, MA 01854

© 1999-2007 MediaNews Group, Inc. Published June 1, 2007.

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