the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Ridgewood NJ, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a former New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) clerk was indicted today along with nine alleged co-conspirators in a scheme in which the clerk allegedly accepted thousands of dollars in payments in return for allowing more than 220 individuals to obtain permits and licenses without passing required exams.
Rodman Lora, 39, of Ridgewood, N.Y., a former clerk at the Lodi MVC Agency, allegedly altered MVC driver records for more than 220 individuals between 2014 and 2016, enabling the individuals to obtain various permits and licenses without having passed the mandatory written and/or driving exams. In return, Lora allegedly received cash payments that averaged more than $700 per license or permit.
The Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau today obtained a state grand jury indictment charging Lora with the following crimes:
Official Misconduct (2nd degree),
Pattern of Official Misconduct (2nd degree),
Conspiracy (2nd degree),
Computer Criminal Activity (2nd degree), and
Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd degree).
The official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct charges against Lora carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison, with a mandatory minimum period of five years of parole ineligibility. The nine co-defendants indicted with Lora include four customers of the illegal scheme, three “runners” whom Lora allegedly used to recruit customers, and two co-conspirators who worked at the Lodi MVC Agency, one as an MVC clerk and the second as a security guard for a private security firm contracted by the MVC. Each of those defendants is charged with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree computer criminal activity, and third-degree tampering with public records or information.
“Corrupt motor vehicle clerks have the power to undermine public safety by issuing fraudulent documents to criminals seeking false identification, or as alleged here, by issuing driver’s credentials to unqualified individuals,” said Attorney General Porrino. “Lora sold out the trust placed in him as a motor vehicle clerk and now faces serious criminal charges, thanks to the vigilance of the MVC and the work of our detectives and attorneys.”
“This indictment sends a strong warning to those who participate in the illegal brokering and sale of driver’s licenses,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We’ll continue to work with the MVC to root out dishonest clerks and aggressively prosecute anyone involved in this type of criminal scheme.”
“The MVC does not tolerate any type of criminal activity whatsoever, either from customers or employees,” said MVC Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “Working together with our partners in law enforcement, we continue to make great strides in weeding out fraud and abuse, while enhancing security throughout our entire organization.”
The following nine additional defendants were charged in the indictment with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree computer criminal activity, and third-degree tampering with public records:
Masood Ahmadi, 54, of Lake Hiawatha, N.J., is the owner of Ideal Transportation, a school bus company that holds busing contracts with several schools and school districts in northern New Jersey. He allegedly recruited customers seeking commercial driver’s licenses into the scheme. Most were relatives of his or were seeking employment as bus drivers with Ideal Transportation.
Luis Tiburcio, 46, of Passaic, N.J.
Carlos Vicuna, 36, of Elizabeth, N.J.
Alleged Co-Conspirators at Lodi MVC Agency
Rosa Vargas, 51, of Lodi, N.J., an MVC clerk, allegedly obtained a motorcycle permit without taking the required written exam. Lora allegedly entered a passing written exam score for her.
Mark Hingston, 55, of Toms River, N.J., a private security guard at the Lodi MVC Agency, allegedly obtained a commercial driver’s permit and license without passing the required written exam. Lora allegedly entered a passing written exam score for him.
Wander Jimenez-Villanueva, 25, of Bogota, N.J., allegedly obtained a Class D driver’s license without passing the required written exam. Lora allegedly entered a passing written exam score for him. Jimenez-Villanueva previously had failed the exam on four occasions.
Angel Nunez-Lora, 27, of Parlin, N.J., allegedly obtained a commercial driver’s license without passing the required written exam. Lora allegedly entered a passing written exam score for him. Nunez-Lora previously had failed the exam on one occasion.
Jose Lora, 44, of Newark, N.J., who is Rodman Lora’s brother, allegedly obtained a commercial driver’s license without passing the required written exam. Lora allegedly entered a passing written exam score for him.
Wilge Rojas, 55, of Clifton, N.J., allegedly obtained a commercial driver’s license without passing the required written exam. Lora allegedly entered a passing written exam score for him. Rojas previously had failed the exam on one occasion.
Deputy Attorney General Christopher Keating presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau. The investigation was conducted by Deputy Attorney General Keating, Detective Cecil Boone, Sgt. Kelly Howard, Detective Jessica Marcacci and Analyst Terri Drumm, under the supervision of Sgt. Andrea Salvatini, Lt. Bill Newsome, Deputy Bureau Chief Andrew Johns, Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith, and Division of Criminal Justice Deputy Director Jill Mayer.
The Motor Vehicle Commission uncovered the alleged scheme involving Lora and referred the case to the Division of Criminal Justice after an initial internal investigation and audit. Attorney General Porrino thanked the Motor Vehicle Commission’s Division of Security, Investigations & Internal Audit for its referral and valuable assistance. He also thanked the following agencies that assisted in the investigation: New Jersey Department of Education, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, New Jersey Department of Treasury-Division of Payroll, Lodi Police Department, Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $15,000. The charges of official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without possibility of parole upon conviction.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier in Mercer County, who assigned the case to Bergen County, where the defendants will be ordered to appear in court for arraignment on the charges at a later date.
Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig noted that the Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free tip line 866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report corruption, financial crime and other illegal activities. The public can also log on to the Division of Criminal Justice webpage at www.njdcj.org to report suspected wrongdoing confidentially.