Two men helped truckers and other drivers dodge $1 million in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls by registering E-ZPass transponders with bogus identities, federal authorities charged.
Duvany Zambrano, 43, of Hamilton, NJ, and Sergio Jara, 37, of Allentown, PA, colluded with other unidentified co-conspirators to buy up thousands of the devices from retailers in both states, an FBI investigation found.
E-ZPass transponders aren't all that difficult to find. Walmart is among those who sell them.
Pennsylvania has more than 300 retail locations where state officials say customers can buy the transponders and begin using them almost immediately on the turnpike, as well as on toll roads, bridges and tunnels in 15 other states. The big selling point is a 25% savings over paying with cash.
Zambrano, Jara and their associates "registered E-Z Pass transponders from retailers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey," U.S. Attorney for the Middle District Of Pennsylvania Gerard M. Karam said. "They then registered the transponders using false personal information and false credit card information.
"They sold the transponders to truckers in the New Jersey area who traveled on the Pennsylvania Turnpike hauling materials," the U.S. attorney said.
An indictment charging Zambrano and Jara with defrauding the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was returned by a grand jury in Harrisburg, PA, on Jan. 4, Karam said.
It was unsealed after both were brought in for initial appearances before a federal judge. A trial is tentatively scheduled for March 4, Karam said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael A. Consiglio is handling the case for the government.
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