Pennsylvania charges 56 in licensing scam

| 11/12/2001

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office announced Nov. 7 charges against 56 people in an ongoing investigation of an alleged license-for-bribes scam at the state's Transportation Department.

The investigation centers on former licensing examiner Robert Ferrari Sr. who was charged with 56 third-degree felony counts of unlawful use of a computer and the same number of felony charges for tampering with public records, according to published reports. Ferrari already faces a 20-count federal indictment on charges he sold bogus commercial driver's licenses to 20 people, 18 of which permit the transport of hazardous materials.

Also charged was James Bidwell, an alleged middleman who was responsible for arranging bogus licenses. He faces third-degree felony charges of criminal conspiracy and tampering with public records.

Nineteen of the people charged reportedly acquired a fraudulent license after their legitimate Pennsylvania licenses were suspended for moving violations, including drunken driving. The remaining 35 charged had no driver's license at all and applied for a Pennsylvania license through Ferrari after falsely stating they had a valid Virginia license. Ferrari allegedly received as much as $1,000 per fraudulent license he provided.

Each of Ferrari's 112 charges carry a penalty of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The 56 people whose charges were announced face one count each of tampering with public records and conspiracy, both third-degree felonies.