DMV probe over alleged ticket fixing

| 3/14/2002

A Mar. 16, 1986, confidential memo by a top official at the Division of Motor Vehicles alleges officers at weigh stations in North Carolina's Buncombe and Henderson counties accepted payoffs and gifts, campaigned for political favors and failed to cite "grossly overweight" trucks owned by influential construction and paving companies.

According to three North Carolina news sources, interviews, court filings and 1986 DMV documents point to a possible pattern of corruption within the department that could span decades.

An investigation into allegations of ticket-fixing at weigh stations by the DMV is rooted in a 1999 speeding citation issued to a former congressional candidate, a prosecutor said.

The district attorney asked that the State Bureau of Investigation look into the speeding ticket, which he believes mushroomed into a bigger investigation. The findings of the probe, begun in 2000, are in a report not yet made public by the State Bureau of Investigation, though some of the allegations were leaked to the media.

On Mar. 7, District Attorney Charles Hipps told area newspapers the case became "the catalyst" for an exhaustive State Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged ticket fixing and bribe-taking by the DMV's western district. "I could not, in good conscience, overlook that," Hipps said.

Allegations by David Ricky Brookshire, a 21-year DMV veteran, are revealed in the report. Brookshire says he was fired for being a whistleblower. His lawsuit contains claims very similar to ones in a 1986 investigation that also alleged officials were taking bribes. He says DMV supervisors encouraged weigh station enforcement officers to accept gifts and cash from truckers, companies and contractors in exchange for more lax enforcement.
--Donna Carlson, staff writer