Another Guilty Plea in Illinois CDL Scandal
July 18, 1999
An independent trucker pleaded guilty last week to extortion conspiracy for his part in a commercial-licenses-for-sale scheme in Chicago.
Nikola Blagojevich admitted arranging the purchase of CDLs for about 10 truckers at two Illinois license testing offices. According to published reports, he will receive a reduced sentence for cooperating with federal authorities investigating the scheme.
Blagojevich is the only person in the investigation so far who has been charged with paying bribes at both the Melrose Parka and McCook testing facilities. So far 10 people have pleaded guilty in the scandal, in which drivers, many of them non-English-speaking, paid bribes of several hundred dollars to get passing grades on tests they did not take. Much of the money apparently went to the campaign coffers of then Secretary of State George Ryan, who is now governor. (The Secretary of State's office oversees driver licensing.)
Current Secretary of State Jesse White has told reporters that he wants to move the McCook testing office because it is tainted by the scandal.