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DMV corruption probe results in charges against two Los Angeles-area employees

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Federal prosecutors have accused two workers at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Los Angeles with taking thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for helping truck drivers obtain licenses even though the applicants never took or passed their driving exams.

The accusations — which involve workers in three San Fernando Valley field offices — are just the latest to arise from a years-long federal investigation into DMV corruption.

According to papers filed Wednesday in Sacramento federal court, Kari Scattaglia, an employee and manager in the Granada Hills and Arleta DMV offices, and Lisa Terraciano, an employee in the Winnetka DMV office, were charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, identity theft and unauthorized access of a computer.

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Working with two brokers who solicited the bribes, Scattaglia and Terraciano accessed a DMV database in Sacramento and changed records to fraudulently indicate that the truckers had passed their exams, the court document said. As part of a scheme that lasted nearly three years, the brokers were paid at least $18,600, prosecutors said.

The court papers also detail how an undercover agent late last year posed as a truck driving student and offered one of the brokers $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 the broker, the agent deposited the money directly into the broker’s account, the document said. The agent had purposefully failed a written exam, but Scattaglia accessed the DMV database and changed the score to passing.

Another undercover agent paid the other broker $2,000 for the same type of license, the document said. Later the agent deposited an additional $7,000 into the broker’s bank account, it said.

Terraciano also entered passing scores in the DMV database for the written exam on behalf of an agent who had failed the test but paid the bribe, the document said.

Scattaglia and Terraciano could not be immediately reached for comment. A DMV representative sent an email to The Times saying that the agency “takes cases such as these seriously and is fully cooperating with law enforcement.”

At least a dozen DMV employees have been charged in a string of bribery scandals that have rocked the agency in recent years.

Two years ago, six people, including three DMV workers, were charged with participating in the same type of bribery scheme. Owners of truck driving schools had obtained more than 100 licenses for their clients by paying up to $5,000.

The charges against Scattaglia and Terraciano are a result of the same investigation and involve some of the same evidence, according to a notice of related cases filed with the court.

Adam.Elmahrek@latimes.com

@adamelmahrek


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