Florida examiner traded bribes for CDLs for undocumented drivers

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 8/18/2008

Yolanda Pippins issued all kinds of driver’s licenses from her post at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

As it turns out, Pippins was handing out some of the most important licenses – commercial driver’s licenses – to unqualified, sometimes undocumented applicants brought to her by brokers. In fact, court documents show Pippins was the key player in a scheme to hand out licenses to countless would-be commercial drivers.

According to court documents, Pippins used her position with the Florida DMV to give CDLs to unqualified applicants brought to her by two middlemen.

In late July, Santos Alamo and Gustavo Soler were sentenced to 21 months in prison followed by 24 months of supervised release. In March, Pippins was sentenced to 21 months in prison followed by 36 months of supervised release and a fine of $1,000.

All defendants pleaded guilty rather than face trial.

Alamo and Soler acted as brokers, or middlemen in the scheme, court documents stated. The men arranged for applicants who were lacking documentation to obtain CDLs for fees paid to them and eventually passed on to Pippins.

“It was a further part of the conspiracy that conspirators would and did meet to discuss the identities of applicant-conspirators who did not have the requisite documentation to support their qualification for CDLs,” court documents state.

The court documents said Pippins helped unqualified applicants from at least 2001 through 2005, although prosecutors did not specify a specific number of fraudulent CDLs issued in the scheme.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

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