OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JOHN F. WOOD
Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106
NOVEMBER 9, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FORMER TESTER AT WEST PLAINS TRUCK-DRIVING SCHOOL
PLEADS GUILTY TO MAIL FRAUD CONSPIRACY
TWO SOMALIS ALSO PLEAD GUILTY TO CONSPIRACY
TO PROVIDE FRAUDULENT LICENSES
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that the tester employed by a now-defunct West Plains, Mo., truck-driving school, as well as two Somali men, have pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to provide fraudulent commercial driver’s licenses to large numbers of Somali and Bosnian nationals.
Orbin Dale May, 64, of West Plains, and Ahmed Muhidin Sharif, 28, a citizen of Somalia living in Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge James C. England this morning to the charge contained in a Sept. 20, 2006, federal indictment.
Abdiwahab Mohamud Mohamed, 38, a citizen of Somalia living in Minneapolis, Minn., pleaded guilty on Nov. 1, 2007, to his role in the conspiracy.
The co-defendants each admitted they were involved in a mail fraud conspiracy from April 1, 2003, to Feb. 6, 2006, that defrauded others by denying the public the right of honest service of contract employees of the state of Missouri. The conspiracy involved fraudulent testing for commercial driver’s licenses on the part of the South Central Career Center Truck Driver Training School (SCCC) in West Plains. May was employed at SCCC, which at that time was a division of the West Plains R-7 School District, to train truck drivers and administer CDL driving tests.
A commercial driver’s license (CDL) allows a person to operate heavy commercial trucks – such as 18-wheel tractors and trailers – and buses on the public highways. In order to obtain a CDL, a driver-applicant must first pass a written test. If the driver-applicant passes the written test, he is issued a temporary permit and must then take the practical “skills test” or “competency test” administered either by the Missouri State Highway Patrol or a third-party tester, such as SCCC. This second test requires the driver-applicant to physically demonstrate his knowledge and ability to inspect and safely drive a commercial vehicle. These tests are required and regulated by both federal and state laws.
May admitted that he gave incomplete or inadequate driving tests and fraudulently certified that applicants had legitimately passed the driving tests. During the course of the conspiracy and in furtherance of the conspiracy, May submitted fraudulent CDL forms, indicating that applicants had successfully completed the competency test, to the SCCC office, which then mailed them to the Missouri Department of Revenue. May would provide the applicant with a copy of the certifying document that could be used to obtain the CDL at a Missouri Department of Revenue office.
May also admitted that he received additional payment (above that which was required under law) to administer the tests, in order to ensure that applicants passed the CDL driving test.
Sharif participated in the conspiracy by transporting students from a truck-driving school to SCCC, knowing that May would fraudulently administer the competency tests. Sharif made about 15 trips in which he transported 70 to 80 students of Somali descent to West Plains in order to fraudulently obtain CDLs. Sharif knew that the tests were being fraudulently administered by May, and observed May give incomplete or inadequate CDL driving tests to the students.
Mohamed, who had fraudulently obtained a CDL, directed students from the state of Minnesota in order to obtain fraudulent CDL licenses.
Under federal statutes, each of the three co-defendants could be subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. Sentencing hearings will be scheduled after the completion of presentence investigations by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eggert. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Overland Park, Kan., Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Missouri Department of Revenue, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the Springfield, Mo., Police Department.
This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at