More Charges In Chicago License Scandal
October 10, 1999
Another Illinois state driver licensing employee has been charged with taking bribes in exchange for commercial drivers licenses, bringing to 17 the number of people charged in a yearlong investigation.
A confidential informant told authorities about seeing Donna Carter payoffs when they both worked at the state's Elk Grove Village commercial drivers licensing facility in 1994 and 1995.
Carter also was tape recorded taking $500 from an undercover postal inspector on Aug. She admitted taking payoffs from the owner of a driving school and from driving instructor Alex Mcleczynski, also a defendant in the case. Mcleczynski was charged last week with making payoffs to secretary of state employees.
This is the first time someone has been charged in the investigation that was not connected to the McCook and Melrose Park facilities.
Also last week, former McCook supervisor George Velasco invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination 21 times during civil suit testimony when asked about the CDL test taken by trucker Ricardo Guzman.
In November 1994, Guzman's truck dropped a mudflap-tail light assembly onto a Wisconsin expressway. The big metal part ripped into the gas tank of an oncoming minivan, causing a fire that killed six children. Former trucking executive Gonzalo Mendoza, a defendant in the federal case, said he paid thousands of dollars in bribes at McCook to get licenses for more than 80 truck drivers, including Guzman.
Guzman testified another trucker was blowing his horn and gesturing as if to tell him that something was wrong. He didn't stop, he said, because he was afraid that a nearby police car would get involved and he wouldn't be able to deliver his load. Guzman also invoked his Fifth Amendment rights when asked how he got his license.
Five companies and two individuals, including Guzman, agreed in August to pay $100 million to settle a civil suit filed by the Willises.
Two of the companies, Chrysler Daimler and Allied Loadcraft, say they paid too much and are suing another company, M & S Services, saying that it should pay a portion of the damages as well.
Guzman testified that once the police car was out of sight, he pulled over and looked at the back of the truck but didn't notice the missing part.