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An L.A. truck driving school owner bribed DMV workers for licenses. Now he’s going to prison

DMV
People wait in line for DMV service in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Winnetka on Sept. 5, 2018.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The owner of a Los Angeles truck driving school was sentenced Thursday to more than three years in prison for his role in a bribery scheme that allowed truckers to obtain driver’s licenses through the Department of Motor Vehicles without passing mandatory state tests.

Jagpal “Paul” Singh, 61, of Los Angeles pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit bribery, identity fraud, unauthorized use of a computer and identification document fraud for paying two DMV employees to change test scores for driver’s license applicants, according to federal court records.

Singh, who owned Calcutta Truck School in North Hollywood, and others allegedly involved in the scheme paid thousands of dollars to the two DMV employees between September 2014 and June 2017 to get them to access the agency’s computer system and change scores, prosecutors allege.

The tests were altered to show falsely that a driver had passed the written and behind-the-wheel tests the state requires to drive 18-wheel cargo trucks and other large vehicles. In some cases, the drivers had not even taken the exams, prosecutors said.

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According to federal court records, Singh was paid $4,500 by undercover agents posing as truck driving school students to bribe DMV employees to change their test results. It is not clear how much the DMV employees were being paid in the scheme.

The court papers detail how an undercover agent in September 2016 posed as a truck driving student and offered Singh $1,500 in exchange for a Class A license, which allows someone to drive a truck weighing more than 26,001 pounds.

As instructed by Singh, the agent deposited the money directly into Singh’s bank account, the document said. The agent had purposefully failed a written exam, but a DMV employee — identified in court records as Lisa Terraciano — accessed the DMV database and changed the score to passing.

Terraciano pleaded guilty to the charges against her and was sentenced in November to more than three years in prison, court records show.

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The charges against Singh and others accused in the scheme were the result of a lengthy probe by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the DMV into corruption at the state agency. The investigation has ensnared several truck driving school owners and DMV employees.


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