A former Lodi motor vehicle agency clerk was sentenced Friday in Hackensack to a plea-bargained seven years in prison after admitting that he collected thousands in dollars in bribes operating a ring that allowed 220 motorists -- including school bus drivers -- to obtain permit and licenses without having to take any tests.
Rodman Lora, 39, of Queens must serve two years and four months before being eligible for parole, under his deal with prosecutors.
Lora was among 70 people charged in a wide-ranging investigation. He admitted that he got an average of $700 per license or permit from 2014 to 2016.
Previously sentenced after pleading guilty were:
- Luis Tiburcio, 46, of Passaic, who got a plea-bargained three years in state prison after admitting that he was paid to work as a “runner” for Lora and bring him customers in the illegal scheme.;
- Masood Ahmadi, 55, of Lake Hiawatha, who received probation for sending people to Lora to obtain commercial licenses -- including relatives -- to drive school buses for his North Jersey-based company, Ideal Transportation;
- Mark Hingston, 55, of Toms River, a private security guard at the Lodi MVC agency, who received two years probation was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service for obtaining a commercial driver’s license with an endorsement, after Lora entered passing written exam scores for him.
“The illegal brokering and sale of driver’s licenses compromises public safety and security on multiple levels, by allowing unqualified drivers to share our roadways and by enabling criminals to steal identities and use false identities to commit crimes,” Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
“It is particularly alarming that school bus drivers were being licensed illegally," he said.
Nine defendants were indicted with Lora, including Tiburcio, Hingston and Ahmadi.
Two others pleaded guilty to tampering with public records in exchange for probation: a 37-year-old runner from Elizabeth and Jose Lora, 45, of Newark, Lora’s brother, who received a commercial driver’s license without passing the written exam.
Four others were admitted into a Pre-Trial Intervention Program, which allows them to have their records expunged if they follow certain conditions for a set period, ordinarily a year.
Beyond the indictment charging those 10 defendants, the investigation led to charges against 60 other customers and runners, bringing the total defendants to 70.
Eight of those 60 pleaded guilty to tampering with public records and face probation, while 52 were admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program.
Deputy Attorney General Christopher Keating presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau.
The case "came to light through the efforts of NJ MVC Investigator 2 Johannes Segboer of the Security & Investigations Unit (SIU)," Grewal said. "NJ MVC Information Technology (IT) personnel were also brought into the mix by SIU Supervising Investigator Gary Nucera, who realized the need for specific database searches to be designed and conducted in order to identify the full extent of the fraudulent activities."
The squad included IT Director Joseph Csolak, Administrative Analyst 4 Philip Fink, Administrative Analyst 3 Alyssa Rosenlicht and Administrative Analyst 3 Carol Sokolowski, the attorney general said.
"Their assistance was of great value throughout," Grewal said. "Even after the matter was referred to the NJ DCJ, Investigator Segboer and the NJ MVC IT Team continued to support DCJ in their investigation.
He also singled out the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, Lodi police, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the state departments of Education, Labor and Workforce Development and Treasury-Division of Payroll for praise.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.