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NEWS RELEASE

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

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


NOVEMBER 28, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


KANSAS TRUCKING COMPANY OWNER PLEADS GUILTY

TO CONSPIRACY TO PROVIDE FRAUDULENT LICENSES

AT WEST PLAINS SCHOOL


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that the owner of a Kansas City, Kan., trucking company pleaded guilty in federal court today to participating in a conspiracy to provide fraudulent commercial driver’s licenses to large numbers of Somali and Bosnian nationals.


            Howard E. Schneider, 40, of Overland Park, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge James C. England this morning to the charge contained in a Sept. 20, 2006, federal indictment. Schneider is the owner of H.E. Schneider Trucking Company in Kansas City, Kan., and involved in the operation of Muslim Brothers and Sisters (MBS), a trucking company that operated a truck driving training school located in Kansas City, Mo.


            By pleading guilty today, Schneider admitted that he was 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, Mo.


            Schneider admitted that he assisted co-conspirators in directing individuals to SCCC in order to fraudulently obtain commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). Schneider also took the CDL driving test at SCCC on Jan. 24, 2005, and knew that the test was not legitimately administered.


            Three co-defendants have also pleaded guilty. Orbin Dale May, 64, of West Plains, Ahmed Muhidin Sharif, 28, a citizen of Somalia living in Kansas City, Mo., and Abdiwahab Mohamud Mohamed, 38, a citizen of Somalia living in Minneapolis, Minn., have pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy.


            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 CDLs.


            Under federal statutes, each of the four 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.


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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

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html