LODI, N.J. – A former Lodi motor vehicle agency clerk collected thousands in dollars in bribes operating a ring that allowed 220 drivers to obtain permit and licenses without having to take any tests authorities said Wednesday.
Rodman Lora, 39, of Queens, got an average of $700 per license or permit from 2014 to 2016, charges an indictment returned against him and several co-conspirators – two each from Bergen and Passaic counties.
One of his “customers” was a private security guard who worked the Lodi Motor Vehicle Commission office, state Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said.
“Corrupt motor vehicle clerks have the power to undermine public safety by issuing fraudulent documents to criminals seeking false identification, or as alleged here, by issuing driver’s credentials to unqualified individuals,” the attorney general said. “Lora sold out the trust placed in him as a motor vehicle clerk and now faces serious criminal charges.”
Also charged in the scheme was Rosa Vargas, 51, of Lodi, a Motor Vehicle Commission clerk at the Lodi office, who, Porrino said, got a motorcycle permit without taking the required written exam when Lora entered a passing written score for her.
Lora also recruited runners who brought him business, the attorney general said.
They included Masood Ahmadi, 54, of Lake Hiawatha, the owner of Ideal Transportation, a school bus company that holds busing contracts with several schools and school districts in northern New Jersey, he said.
Ahmadi “recruited customers seeking commercial driver’s licenses into the scheme,” Porrino said. “Most were relatives of his or were seeking employment as bus drivers with Ideal Transportation.”
Also charged as a runner was Luis Tiburcio, 46, of Passaic.
State authorities busted alleged customers, as well, including:
- Wander Jimenez-Villanueva, 25, of Bogota, who’d failed the exam four previous times but got a license after Lora entered a passing score, Porrino said.
- Wilge Rojas, 55, of Clifton, who’d failed to obtain a commercial driver’s license without passing the required written exam before Lora took care of things, the attorney general said.
- Mark Hingston, 55, of Toms River, a private security guard at the Lodi MVC Agency who got a commercial driver’s permit and license after Lora entered a passing written exam score for him, Porrino said.
Lora is charged in the indictment with official misconduct, conspiracy and tampering with public records, among other counts.
The co-defendants are charged with various conspiracy, tampering and criminal computer activity counts, Porrino said.
A state judge in Trenton assigned the case to the case to Superior Court in Hackensack.
“This indictment sends a strong warning to those who participate in the illegal brokering and sale of driver’s licenses,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to work with the MVC to root out dishonest clerks and aggressively prosecute anyone involved in this type of criminal scheme.”
Deputy Attorney General Christopher Keating presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau.
The investigation was conducted by Deputy Attorney General Keating, Detective Cecil Boone, Sgt. Kelly Howard, Detective Jessica Marcacci and Analyst Terri Drumm, under the supervision of Sgt. Andrea Salvatini, Lt. Bill Newsome, Deputy Bureau Chief Andrew Johns, Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith, and Division of Criminal Justice Deputy Director Jill Mayer.
The Motor Vehicle Commission uncovered the alleged scheme involving Lora and referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice after an initial internal investigation and audit.
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