The FBI is investigating a large scale scheme in which a San Antonio employee of the Texas Department of Public Safety commercial driver’s license division accepted bribes in exchange for fraudulent commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).
According to investigators, the DPS employee fraudulently issued at least 215 commercial driver’s licenses between January 2017 and June of this year.
According to reports, authorities first discovered the conspiracy when they noticed an unusual number of CDLs being issued. This anomaly prompted the DPS and the Texas Rangers to perform an investigation during which they discovered more than 200 license holders who had not taken the skill test.
According to testimony and information on the DPS website, applicants for CDLs are required to perform an air brake safety inspection as well as complete a road test the same class and type of motor vehicle as they plan to drive. However, FBI special agent Monroe Giese testified that the DPS employee was accepting bribes to falsely certify people to drive large commercial vehicles when they had never passed nor shown up for the assessment test.
Of the fraudulent driver’s licenses issued, 197 went to Cuban nationals, 11 to U.S. citizens, one to a Dominican Republic national, one to an Ethiopian, one to an Iraqi, one to a Puerto Rican, one to a Ukraine national and two to Mexican nationals, according to authorities.
DPS suspended the employee and is working with authorities. He has not yet been charged, and his name has not been released.
In addition to the DPS employee, authorities are also pursuing truck drivers believed to have accepted the fraudulent CDLs. They have made at least two arrests so far.
Marina Maury Diaz-Leon, 52, of San Antonio, and Fernando Guardado Vazquez, 40, of Austin, conspired together to offer bribes to the DPS employee, according to FBI special agent Monroe Giese. Both men are truckers and legal U.S. residents.
Giese said they used a drop phone to communicate with the DPS employee. During the operation, Vazquez gave the employee the name of a person who sought a CDL and a $500 bribe payment during one meeting, and $1,000 in a second meeting.
Diaz-Leon also provided Vazquez with names of people seeking CDLs and $2,500 in each of three meetings.
The DPS employee followed their instructions, delivering temporary paper CDLs to Vazquez or Diaz-Leon, but the final product was never mailed to the intended recipients, Giese said.
The judge set Diaz-Leon and Vazquez’s bonds at $30,000 unsecured, but she suspended her bond to allow prosecutors 24 hours to appeal it.
If convicted, the pair will face up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, and deportation.
San Antonio attorney Thomas J. Henry has launched an investigation of his own and is actively seeking the names of the more than 200 truck drivers who have been issued fraudulent commercial driver’s licenses.
According to Thomas J. Henry, the holders of the fraudulent CLDs not only skirted the law, they also put other truck drivers, motorists, and pedestrians at risk. Thomas J. Henry also expressed concern for victims who may have been injured or killed in collisions causes by these drivers.
“At this time, we do not know if any of these drivers have caused wrecks or fatalities. It is important for all victims to know that information.”
Thomas J. Henry is one of the nation’s largest personal injury plaintiffs’ firms and is a leader in commercial vehicle and trucking accident litigation. With a team of more than 150 attorneys across four Texas cities, you can rest assured that legal help is never far away.
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