December 9, 2008

Bad Drivers Pay DMV Clerks to Divert 1,475 Tickets

Bad Drivers Pay DMV Clerks to Divert 1,475 Tickets

Commercial drivers facing license suspensions hired “brokers” to make their traffic woes disappear, leading to felony charges against three state employees and an alleged “middleman,” the New York State Inspector General announced today.

The scam saw more than 1,475 moving violations altered or reduced to charges such as “improper operation of a bicycle or skateboard” in Manhattan and Brooklyn in the past two years, according to the Inspector General, who investigated the case upon referral by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Taxi, truck and other drivers paid hundreds of dollars to have their tickets reduced or “lost” by DMV clerks, officials alleged. The Inspector General brought the case to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office when the ring was uncovered operating out of the DMV Rector Street office in Manhattan.

“This is merely the beginning of an ongoing case,” said Inspector General Joseph Fisch, who noted that ticket recipients and illicit brokers are being investigated. “This behavior creates a danger on our roads and is an insult to law-abiding citizens who pay their traffic fines. We commend DMV, in particular the traffic violations bureau that uncovered these discrepancies and led to today’s arrests.” He also thanked the New York Police Department for its cooperation and assistance.

Felony charges of tampering with public records in the first degree were lodged against DMV clerks Deborah Perez, 40, of Domain Street, Staten Island, Norma Lamboy, 52, and her son, Jose Concepcion, 29, both of Dumont Avenue, Brooklyn, as well as Robert Vera, 51, of 149th Street, Queens. Perez and Vera were arrested Tuesday at Perez’ DMV office, where Vera made nearly daily visits to alter traffic summonses, officials said.

DMV investigators uncovered the scams last year after Lamboy and Perez were disciplined for diverting traffic cases in the DMV database.

"I am very proud of the Department of Motor Vehicle investigators who uncovered this serious breach and referred it to the Inspector General for investigation," said DMV Commissioner David J. Swarts. "Violation of the public trust by any DMV employee -- particularly an alleged ticket fixing scheme that endangers public safety -- will not be tolerated, but will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Perez, a 19-year DMV employee earning $39,570 per year, and Lamboy, an 18- year employee earning $38,520 per year, are accused of changing driver ID numbers, addresses or name spellings so the tickets would be lost in the database or send to the wrong address.

The case has been referred to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and has been assigned to Assistant District Attorney Cindy Chung.