Newspaper: Illegal CDL holders caused accidents

| Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Colorado CDL scandal continued to build, as a newspaper reported that 27 people who illegally obtain licenses through a truck driving school there were responsible for 200 “serious” traffic and regulatory violations, as well as 26 accidents.

The Denver Post, which broke the story, reported the latest allegations in the growing controversy.

The newspaper reported Jan. 25 that Colorado’s Division of Motor Vehicles had revoked the licenses of more than 200 truck drivers and other CDL holders because the division suspected they were obtained with false information.

The Department of Revenue, which includes the motor vehicle department, was already under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the federal Department of Transportation after suspicions were raised that state employees were illegally selling driver's licenses, the newspaper said.

Many of the licenses, which included a number of tractor-trailer drivers and others, used Social Security numbers that did not match the drivers’ names. Some CDLs were allegedly sold for up to $2,500.

A similar scandal in Illinois led the charges against – and convictions of – more than 60 people. The charges include former Gov. George Ryan, who is now awaiting trial.

That investigation, dubbed “Operation Safe Road,” initially focused on bribes exchanged for CDLs for unqualified truck drivers at the McCook CDL facility. The federal probe was later expanded to a range of alleged bribery and other corruption in the 1990s.

Ryan, who served as secretary of state from 1991 to 1999 – and therefore was in charge of McCook and other such facilities – has said he knew there was a culture of corruption in the secretary of state's office but said he was unaware of the specifics.

Two of the truckers who received the fraudulent licenses in the Illinois scandal were later involved in two accidents with a total of nine deaths. One of those incidents involved a fatal 74-vehicle wreck in 1998.

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