Two Israeli nationals plead guilty to CDL fraud

| 8/11/2006

Two more players in a Florida-based CDL-for-sale scheme have pleaded guilty.

On Aug, 4, Joseph Cohen and Elan Bitton, both Israeli nationals living in Florida, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Miami, FL, to a one-count charge of conspiracy to the unlawful production of driver's licenses and commercial driver's licenses, according to the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

OIG's investigation found that Cohen served as a middleman, receiving $1,500 from Bitton – who sought to obtain a Florida CDL for which he was ineligible – and directing him to Marta Pinto, a license examiner for the Florida Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Pinto received between $700 and $1,000 apiece for processing approximately 100 driver's licenses and CDLs, including Bitton's. Pinto designated that license applicants were U.S. citizens when they were believed to be illegal aliens, according to the OIG.

Pinto's plea ultimately stemmed from a 2003 household goods moving fraud case in which Pinto and a middleman were identified as allegedly assisting many Israeli and foreign nationals to obtain CDLs and driver's licenses. A 17-year employee of the DMV, Pinto resigned in September 2005. Pinto pleaded guilty on July 26.

Cohen, Bitton, and Pinto are scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 4.