A Motor Vehicle Commission clerk faked records and sold commercial driver's licenses to 200 school bus drivers, officials said.
Two people are now in jail this week after it was discovered that a Motor Vehicle Commission clerk faked records and sold commercial driver's licenses to 200 school bus drivers who never passed mandatory tests, according to a release from the Office of Attorney General.
Rodman Lora, 39, of Ridgewood, N.Y., a former clerk at the Lodi MVC Agency, was sentenced to prison Friday for operating a scheme in which he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in payments in return for allowing over 200 people to obtain permits and licenses without passing required exams, according to the release.
The investigation revealed that Lora altered MVC driver records for over 200 people between 2014 and 2016, enabling them to obtain various permits and licenses without having passed the mandatory written and/or driving exams, including commercial driver's licenses with school bus and HazMat endorsements. In return, he received cash payments averaging over $700 per license or permit.
The following three men previously pleaded guilty to third-degree tampering with public records in connection with the scheme. They also were sentenced Friday by Judge Guida.
- Luis Tiburcio, 46, of Passaic was paid to act as a "runner" for Lora and bring him customers in the illegal scheme. He was sentenced to three years in state prison.
- Masood Ahmadi, 55, of Lake Hiawatha is the owner of Ideal Transportation, a school bus company operating in northern New Jersey. He sent people seeking commercial driver's licenses to Lora to obtain licenses through the scheme, including relatives and persons seeking employment with his company. He was sentenced to a term of three years of probation.
- Mark Hingston, 55, of Toms River, a private security guard at the Lodi MVC agency, obtained a commercial driver's license with an endorsement after Lora entered passing written exam scores for him. He received two years of probation and 100 hours of community service.
"The illegal brokering and sale of driver's licenses compromises public safety and security on multiple levels, by allowing unqualified drivers to share our roadways and by enabling criminals to steal identities and use false identities to commit crimes," Attorney General Grewal said in the release. "The MVC has enhanced its technology and programs to prevent this type of fraud, and we will continue to collaborate with them to investigate and aggressively prosecute those responsible."
"We left no stone unturned in our investigation, charging a total of 70 people, including many defendants who illegally obtained licenses through this scheme," said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. "The prison sentences ordered for this former MVC clerk and one of his runners send a strong deterrent message that document fraud of this kind is a serious crime that will be met with serious penalties."
Nine defendants were indicted with Lora. Two pleaded guilty previously to tampering with public records and face sentences of probation: Carlos Vicuna, 37, of Elizabeth was a "runner" for the scheme, and Jose Lora, 45, of Newark Lora's brother, received a commercial driver's license without passing the written exam. Four defendants were admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, according to the release.
Beyond the indictment charging those 10 defendants, the investigation led to charges against 60 other customers and runners, bringing the total defendants to 70. Seven of those 60 pleaded guilty to tampering with public records and face probation, and 52 were admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, according to the release.
Lora was sentenced to 7 years in state prison, including 2 years and 4 months of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge James J. Guida in Bergen County. He pleaded guilty on April 16 to charges of conspiracy (2nd degree), computer criminal activity (2nd degree), and tampering with public records (3rd degree).
He forfeited his state pension and is permanently barred from public employment. Deputy Attorney General Christopher J. Keating prosecuted the defendants and handled the sentencing hearings for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free tip line 866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The public can also log on to the Division of Criminal Justice webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said four people were jailed. There were two.
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