Five Plead Innocent In CDLs-For-Sale Case
April 19, 1999
Four current and former state officials and a truck driver have pleaded innocent on charges of participating in an Illinois scheme to sell commercial driver's licenses to unqualified drivers.
Two of the defendants, Marion Seibel and George Velasco, are former supervisors at the McCook driver's license facility, and are accused of accepting bribes in exchange for passing grades. Some payoff money was used to buy fund-raising tickets for Gov. George Ryan's campaign, who was secretary of state at the time and in charge of the driver's license program.
Gonzolo Mendoza has worked for several trucking companies and allegedly sent several licensing applicants to the other defendants.
William O'Connor and Miguel Calderon are employees of the Illinois Department of transportation. Calderon's attorney later said his client will change his plea to guilty at the next court date on April 27. Edwin Diaz, another IDOT employee, is expected to plead guilty this week. Diaz and Calderon are also charged with letting some truckers use state rigs for the road exams.
So far, 13 people have been indicted in the federal investigation. At least 250 unqualified truckers are alleged to have paid bribes to pass licensing exams, and some estimates put the number at 400 or more.