The owners of an Essex County-based school bus company whose driver OD'd and crashed with 12 special-needs kids on board hired criminals and drug addicts, put unsafe vehicles on the road and tried to cover it all up, state authorities charged.
Ahmed Mahgoub, 62, and his wife, Faiza Ibrahim, 47, both of East Hanover, knowingly hired drivers for F&A Transportation who “did not hold valid commercial driver’s licenses or required license endorsements, as well as drivers who had criminal histories or were using illegal drugs,” Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
The couple doctored vehicle inspection forms and lied to school districts in Passaic, Morris and Union counties “to cover up the fact that the company hired unqualified drivers, failed to conduct mandatory drug testing and criminal background checks for drivers and aides, and operated unsafe buses,” Grewal added.
They also told drivers to evade MVC inspections at school sites and at times had aides drive the school buses, the attorney general said.
By doing so, the couple protected roughly $3.5 million in contracts with those districts, he said.
In an incident that made headlines last year, one of their drivers used heroin in the F&A parking lot in East Orange before overdosing and crashing a bus into the wall of a building at 14th Avenue and Jones Street in Newark with 12 special-needs children aboard.
Responding police officers used Narcan to revive her.
State authorities on Thursday charged Mahgoub and Ibrahim with conspiracy, false representation for a government contract, theft by deception, tampering with public records and corporate misconduct following an investigation by Grewal’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability and the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau.
“This is the second time in four months that we have filed serious criminal charges against a school bus company and its operators for allegedly putting children in jeopardy by hiring unqualified drivers, using unsafe buses, and falsifying records to cover up their conduct,” Grewal said.
“No parent should have to worry about the condition of their child’s school bus or question whether their child’s bus driver might be a felon or someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” he added. “No child should ever be put in danger that way.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.