Hundreds, including school bus drivers, got illicit licenses, NJ says
A Motor Vehicle Commission clerk took thousands of dollars in bribes to let hundreds of people — including school bus drivers — get driver permits and licenses without passing exams, state officials say.
Rodman Lora, 39, of Ridgewood, N.Y., a former clerk at the Lodi MVC Agency, took payments that averaged $700 each from more than 220 people between 2014 and 2016, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said.
An indictment Thursday also charges nine other people — alleged "runners" and customers of the scheme. It wasn't clear from an announcement by Porrino's office whether further indictments, including of the hundreds of other alleged customers, might be coming as well.
Among the alleged "runners" was Masood Ahmadi, 54, of the Lake Hiawatha section of Parsippany — the owner of Ideal Transportation, a school bus company that Porrino said holds busing contracts with "several schools and school districts in northern New Jersey."
Ahmadi is accused of recruiting customers seeking commercial driver licenses into the scheme — mostly relatives or would-be employees.
The statement from Porrino's office didn't specify which districts might have been served by unqualified drivers.
Lora is charged with the second-degree crimes of official misconduct, pattern of official misconduct, conspiracy and computer criminal activity. He is also charged with the third-degree crime of tampering with public records or information. The misconduct charges carry a sentence of 5 to 10 years in state prison, with a minimum 5 yearsbefore parole eligibility.
Two other MVC employees are charged — clerk Rosa Vargas, 51, of Lodi, and security guard Mark Hingston, 55, of Toms River. Vargas allegedly obtained a motorcycle permit without taking the required written exam. Hingston allegedly obtained a commercial driver permit and license without passing the written exam.
The Motor Vehicle Commission uncovered the scheme during an internal audit, Porrino said.
“Lora sold out the trust placed in him as a motor vehicle clerk and now faces serious criminal charges, thanks to the vigilance of the MVC and the work of our detectives and attorneys," he said.
Other drivers indicted this week, all of whom allegedly obtained commercial driver licenses without passing written exams:
• Wander Jimenez-Villanueva, 25, of Bogota, who allegedly obtained a Class D driver’s license despite failing the exam on four occasions.
• Angel Nunez-Lora, 27, of Parlin, who had failed his exam once before.
• Jose Lora, 44, of Newark (Rodman Lora’s brother)
• Wilge Rojas, 55, of Clifton, who had failed once before.
Luis Tiburcio, 46, of Passaic, and Carlos Vicuna, 36, of Elizabeth are both described as "runners" in the scheme.
All of the alleged co-conspirators are charged with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree computer criminal activity and third-degree tampering with public records or information.
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