will check all 124,488 commercial driver’s licenses in the state to see whether
fraudulent information was used to obtain them, a spokeswoman for the state’s
Department of Revenue told Land Line.
announcement that the state would undertake the check – which was ordered by
Michael Cooke, executive director of the department – came after a series of
reports in The Denver Post.
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.
continued to build Jan. 26, when the newspaper reported that 27 people who
illegally obtain licenses through a Colorado truck driving school were
responsible for 200 “serious” traffic and regulatory violations, as well as 26
Reimer, a public information officer with the Department of Revenue, said no
timetable had yet been established for the checks.
not going to start just right now, and we don’t even know what form this will
take,” Reimer told Land Line. “Obviously, we want to make sure that all of the CDL drivers are legitimate
licenses were sold in this fraudulent effort to some folks who shouldn’t have
had them. Either they were illegal immigrants, or whatever, and we’re just
trying to address that.”
the searches will initially focus on making sure that names match the Social
Security numbers used to obtain the CDLs, Reimer said the state would be
looking for anything in license information “that doesn’t quite jibe.”
address that doesn’t relate …, Social Security numbers, anything like that,” she said.
check started with 250 letters sent out to CDL holders who received their
licenses through two people who allegedly provided the documents to people
using fraudulent information. Some CDLs were allegedly sold for up
to $2,500, The Post reported.
said that in those letters, the state told the CDL holders involved that their
licenses and driving privileges were immediately revoked, and that they needed
to contact state officials immediately and provide evidence that their
information is correct.
people who received the letters have already contacted the state, and some were
able to clear up incorrect information and obtain new CDLs.
are some cases where a number might be transposed, and some simple things like
that that can be corrected,” she said.
also stressed that many of the licenses issued by the two examiners were
legitimate licenses issued to qualified drivers. And the state does not suspect
that any other examiners had issued false licenses. But nonetheless, state
officials felt compelled to undergo a more thorough check.
we’re going to really make sure that the truckers who are licensed in Colorado
and who are on the roads are qualified to be on the roads, then we need to
carry it this far,” she said. “We need to take it to this level.
a massive effort. We have this obligation to the public.”
said the state also wanted to assure drivers who received their CDLs using
correct information that their ability to drive is not in danger. If their
licenses are revoked, state officials will reissued the license “in a
heartbeat” once correct information is provided.
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.
– By Mark H. Reddig,