Three people have pleaded guilty to their roles in separate fraud schemes designed to help non-English speakers obtain commercial drivers’ licenses in New York State, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.
The two fraud cases do not appear to be related according to court documents and indictments filed in the U.S. District Court, even though both occurred in New York City and involved fraudulently obtaining CDLs by various schemes to cheat on the written or audio portion of the exams.
On Jan. 12, Marie Daniel of Queens Village pleaded guilty to one count of attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with a widespread fraudulent CDL test-taking scheme in New York state. Daniel was indicted, along with 10 others, in October 2013 by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
The investigation revealed that fraudulent CDL test-taking activities had taken place at five known New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) test centers in the New York City area, according to the OIG release. Surveillance operations, including the use of remote observation posts and pole-cams, identified the defendants participating in the fraud scheme – including DMV security personnel, an external test-taker, facilitators, “runners,” and lookouts.
Conspiring CDL applicants were known to have paid facilitators between $1,800 and $2,500 in return for CDL exam answers and escort assistance through DMV processes. Fraud schemes included the use of pencils containing miniaturized encoded test answers, the use of a Bluetooth headset as a communication device to relay CDL test answers, and the use of an external test-taker positioned nearby to take the exams. Daniel was identified as an external test-taker.
A sentencing hearing for Daniel is scheduled for 10 a.m. on April 24.
Other defendants charged in the case are Akmal Narzikulov, 28, of Brooklyn; Firdavs Mamadaliev, 22, of Brooklyn; Dale Harper, 48, of Bronx; Joachim Pierre Louis, 32, of Brooklyn; Latoya Bourne, 32, of Brooklyn; Luc Desmangles, 27, of Brooklyn; Beayeah Karmara, 25, of Staten Island; Jose Payano, 44, of Brooklyn; Tanael Daniel, 36, of Brooklyn; and Inocente Rene Gonzalez-Martinez, 57, of Brooklyn.
Narzikulov, an ambulance worker, was reportedly the ring leader for the CDL scheme.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Homeland Security Investigations; the U.S. Department of Transportation-Office of Inspector General; the New York State Inspector General; the New York State Attorney General’s Office; the New York City Police Department, Internal Affairs Bureau; the New York County District Attorney’s Office; and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.
On Jan. 8, spouses Ying Wai Phillip Ng and Pui Kuen Ng, owner/operators of a commercial driving school, N&Y Professional Service Line in Brooklyn, pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with identification documents, according to the OIG release.
From approximately 2001 to 2012, the Ngs assisted customers in taking the written New York State CDL exam by providing the answers to test takers. Many of the driving school’s customers did not speak or write in English. The school routinely provided certain customers with covert camera equipment prior to taking the CDL exam, which was viewed remotely. This enabled the defendants to provide the test answers to the customers through a pre-arranged pager mechanism, which beeped a certain number of times to denote the correct answers on the exams. It is estimated that as many as 500 CDL applicants passed the exam as a result of this scheme.
As part of their guilty pleas, the Ngs agreed to be jointly and severally liable for a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $125,000 in cash, forfeited assets of $50,645 in seized bank funds, and a 2004 Toyota Sienna used in the commission of the crime.
A sentencing hearing for the couple is scheduled for 10 a.m. on April 23.
The investigation was conducted by the OIG with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – El Dorado Task Force.
Contributing Writer Charlie Morasch contributed to this report.
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