Florida Trucking School Loses Out Again
July 12, 2000
A Florida truck driver training school involved in a bribery scandal has lost a bid to continue operating under new management.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, REACT Inc. lost the right in April to conduct road skills tests after two staff members were charged as part of an FBI investigation into claims the company awarded CDLs to drivers without testing in exchange for cash.
The FBI said untested drivers paid $900 to $1,500 to receive a waiver, which certified successful completion of a road skill test. The waiver, along with a written test, allows a driver to operate a bus or semi-trailer truck.
REACT appealed the April ruling, but earlier this week, Sandra Lambert, Director of the Florida Division of Driver Licenses, upheld her previous decision to close REACT's driving school.
Members of the board that oversees the school said they were unaware of the alleged bribery involving examiner Hilary Marek Winniczek and board member Tony A. Puleo, and hoped that the school could reopen with new staff members. Winniczek and Puleo resigned last month shortly after they were indicted on federal charges of fixing tests for money. Both pleaded innocent.
REACT, which stands for Restoration and Evangelism Advanced Thru Community Training, is a trade school affiliated with Without Walls International Church in Tampa, though the entities are governed separately.
Last month, Florida contacted 800 drivers who gained certification at REACT. Of the 350 drivers who responded, two-thirds passed a legitimate test, eight failed and the rest surrendered their commercial licenses. Another 400 drivers in Florida and 250 in other states were contacted this month and were informed they had to retest in order to keep their licenses.