Seven Florida license examiners arrested in CDL scam
Dec 3, 2001 12:00 PM
Seven driver license examiners who worked out of offices in Hialeah and Coral Gables have been arrested for accepting bribes in exchange for providing licenses, including commercial driver licenses, and identification cards to unqualified individuals, according to information from the Florida attorney general's office.
"Twenty-eight commercial driver licenses or temporary licenses qualifying truckers to take road tests were issued to people who did not qualify for them and either could not or would not undergo required examinations to obtain them legally," said Melanie Hines of the attorney general's office. "Regular licenses and identification cards were also issued to individuals who could not provide documentation to prove their identities and/or their legal presence in the United States."
Among those arrested were Maria C Del Guidice, 46, of Pembroke Pines; Maritza M Fernandez, 40, of Virginia Gardens; Tyrone Gilchrist, 33, of Miami; Jose V Nunez, 43, of Pembroke Pines; Ana R Sosa, 30, of Miami; and Audrey Hines Williams, 36, of Opa-Locka. They all worked at the Hialeah driver license office located at 1923 West 60th Street.
Also arrested was Justo Jose Echavarria, 41, who worked at the Coral Gables driver license office located at 4520 Ponce de Leon Boulevard. The seven were charged with 189 felony counts, including racketeering, bribery, unlawful compensation, forgery, and computer crimes. They face maximum prison sentences ranging from 20 years for Gilchrist to 570 years for Nunez.
During an extensive, 15-month investigation, Florida Highway Patrol investigators caught payoffs to the examiners on video and audio tape.
The examiners are being held on bonds ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. The computer record modifications made in Hialeah, Coral Gables and elsewhere in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties were transmitted to Tallahassee, where the data resides and is then shared throughout the state. Because of the multi-jurisdictional nature of the activity, the examiners are being prosecuted by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, Miami-Dade Bureau, in conjunction with the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office. Additional charges are expected against other participants in the scheme.
The charges and facts cited here are accusations only. Nunez, Fernandez, Del Guidice, Echavarria, Williams, Sosa and Gilchrist are presumed innocent until and unless the charges are proven beyond a reasonable doubt.