Iraqis plead not guilty to CDL fraud

| 10/24/2001

Two Iraqi men have pleaded not guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh, PA, to charges that they fraudulently obtained commercial driver's licenses from a state examiner accused of taking bribes. The two are being held without bond because they are considered flight risks by the government.

The two men were both originally detained in Texas, on orders from a state magistrate, for refusing to provide authorities with information about themselves or their families in Iraq. They are among 20 Middle Eastern men indicted by a grand jury in Pittsburgh in a scheme to obtain CDLs from Robert Ferrari, a former examiner for the state's Transportation Department charged with selling bogus licenses with hazardous materials endorsements. Eighteen of the men also obtained permits allowing them to haul hazardous materials.

The two men, along with 18 others indicted in the scam, were rounded up last month in seven states amid concerns about possible terrorist attacks involving chemical or biological weapons. The FBI and U.S. attorney's office said they have found no link between the fraud and the Sept. 11 attacks.