Florida looking for 1,000 who got fraudulent CDLs

| 5/1/2002

Florida officials can't locate more than 1,000 truckdrivers who they say got CDLs through payoffs in a program prosecutors allegedly run by a Tampa church, the Tampa Tribune reported.

A bogus truck driving school was operated on the property of Tampa's Without Walls International Church from 1997 until April, 2000, when it was raided by the FBI.

Two who ran the school have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. The church was paid 10 percent of the school's gross earnings. The church's pastor said the money was a tithe.

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Carriers wrote letters in June 2000 to more than 2,000 drivers who received licenses, demanding they be re-tested. In Florida, 334 complied. Those who didn't were sent letters notifying them their licenses were canceled. Other states were notified too, the paper reported.

According to the Tribune's story, court records show most applicants were Eastern European immigrants who could not speak or understand English and paid between $800 and $1,400 for each CDL.