Charges filed in Pennsylvania in CDL scam
Nov 12, 2001 12:00 PM
Charges have been filed against 56 suspects in Pennsylvania who are accused of participating in an illegal driver license scam, including 19 who received commercial driver licenses, according to information from the Pennsylvania attorney general's office.
Attorney General Mike Fisher said the investigation focused on former Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) licensing examiner Robert Ferrari Sr, 57, 124-J Watson Drive, Turtle Creek, Allegheny County. Ferrari, a PennDOT employee from May 1995 through April 2000, has been charged with 56 counts of tampering with public records or information and 56 counts of unlawful use of a computer.
The charges allege that from May 1998 through February 2000, Ferrari, in his role as a licensing examiner, provided fraudulent licenses to 54 individuals, all of whom were charged November 7. He was also charged with suppling licenses to two defendants who have been previously charged. The charges allege that Ferrari received between $150 to $1,000 per fraudulent license he provided, according to Fisher.
The charges state that Ferrari could produce a fraudulent license by requiring applicants to fill out a PennDOT form that certified that they held a valid license from another state. Ferrari allegedly would alter the applicant's date of birth or social security number thereby circumventing the checks and balances in the PennDOT computer, which are programed to detect duplicate licenses.
Fisher said the charges state that Ferrari also dealt with "middle men," who paid Ferrari a fee and brought groups of people to him for fraudulent licenses. The middle men allegedly made a profit by charging individuals a much higher fee than they paid Ferrari.
Fisher said the attorney general and state police investigation of Ferrari has helped lead to federal charges being filed against 19 separate suspects who allegedly obtained fraudulent commercial driver licenses (CDLs) from Ferrari.
Fisher said those charges, which were filed in late September and early October, are being prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office in part, because it is a federal crime to obtain a fraudulent CDL.
Fisher explained that a commercial driver's license authorizes a driver to operate a vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds. The suspects being charged November 7 all allegedly received fraudulent Class C or passenger vehicle driver licenses.
Fisher said those being charged fall into three categories. The first category, which includes 19 defendants, allegedly obtained fraudulent licenses from Ferrari because their original, or legitimate, Pennsylvania driver's licenses were suspended for variety of reasons, such as speeding or driving under the influence convictions.
Fisher said the second group, which includes 13 suspects, allegedly received fraudulent Pennsylvania driver's licenses from Ferrari by claiming that they had surrendered a valid out-of-state driver's license. These suspects have all been interviewed by the Pennsylvania State Police or BCI agents.
Fisher said the third category, which includes 22 suspects, also allegedly received fraudulent Pennsylvania driver's licenses from Ferrari by claiming to have surrendered a valid out of state driver's license. To date, this group has not been contacted by the Pennsylvania State Police or BCI agents.
Fisher said the 54 defendants are each charged with one count each of tampering with public records and criminal conspiracy. Each count is a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. They are also each charged with one count of unsworn falsification to authorities, which is a third-degree misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.
Fisher noted that each of Ferrari's counts, tampering with public records and unlawful use of a computer, are third-degree felonies carrying a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine per count.