A former employee of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (“PennDOT”) has been accused of dozens of felony and misdemeanor charges arising from a scheme in which the employee allegedly assisted driver’s license applicants in exchange for financial payment. According to reports, the employee targeted non-English-speaking applicants and coerced them into paying cash for the answers of the knowledge portion of the exam. The employee is awaiting a preliminary hearing on the charges.
Investigation into Criminal Conduct by PennDOT Employee
According to a recent article by Becky Metrick of Pennlive, in an ongoing criminal case, a former employee of PennDOT may have targeted immigrants and bribed them, affecting the validity of hundreds of licenses. Last year, PennDOT’s Risk Management Office uncovered “irregularities” with over 250 license or identification card transactions involving a certain employee, spanning October of 2021 to March of 2022. These irregularities included unusual testing patterns, incomplete applications, and absence of required documents.
The investigation prompted the employee to resign, leaving the organization in April of last year. The allegations suggest that this behavior affected driver’s license test results from two PennDOT licensing centers – the Regency Square location in East Hempfield Township and the Lancaster East location in East Lampeter Township.
According to police, immigrants were the primary targets of the illegal scheme, in which the employee engaged with primarily Spanish-speaking individuals seeking a driver’s license and “coerced them into giving him cash payments in return for his assistance on the tests.” The payments, which allegedly ranged from $20 to $350, resulted in driver’s licenses being issued to individuals who otherwise would have failed their examinations.
Criminal Charges Filed Against Employee for Illegal Licensing Scheme
On Jan. 4, 2023, a criminal complaint was filed against the employee, charging him with 17 felony counts of bribery in official matters, 17 felony counts of tampering with public record, and one felony count each of theft by deception and criminal use of a communication facility. Additionally, the criminal complaint charges the employee with 35 misdemeanor counts of tampering with public record. As with any criminal case, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecution has yet to meet its burden in court.
The suspect was arraigned in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, earlier this month and was released on $75,000 bail. Court records reflect that the preliminary hearing, originally scheduled for Jan. 10, 2023, was rescheduled to March 1, 2023.