Bakersfield Trucking School Owner and Former DMV Employee Charged with Scheme to Fraudulently Issue California Driver’s Licenses
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a 13-count indictment on March 29, 2018, against Bikramjit Singh Pannu, aka Victor, 47, and Ulises Pena, 35, both of Bakersfield, charging them with criminal conspiracy, one count each of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, five counts of unlawful production of an identification document and five counts of unlawful transfer of an identification document, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced today.
Pannu was arrested today and is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court at 2:30 p.m. today in Bakersfield before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Thurston. Pena made his initial appearance before Judge Thurston on April 4, 2018.
According to court documents, Pannu operated Skyway Truck Driving School in Bakersfield that ostensibly provided training to those seeking to obtain driver licenses. When a student could not pass the required DMV license written examinations, Pannu offered to assist them, in return for money, to have his co-defendant Pena, who was employed at a DMV field office in Bakersfield, access DMV records and alter them to show that the individual had passed DMV written examinations even though they had not. The DMV would then mail the student an officially issued California Driver License.
The scheme between Pannu and Pena continued from approximately January 2015 through August 25, 2016. In addition to the charged conspiracy and the bribery charges, the indictment also charges the unlawful production and transfer of five specific commercial Class A California driver’s licenses.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Investigations Division, Internal Affairs. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Z. Carbajal III and David L. Gappa are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge, a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the bribery charge, and a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge of unlawful production and transfer of identification documents. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.