SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Tuesday, after a four-day trial, a federal jury found Robert S. Turchin, 68, of Salinas, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and identity fraud and three counts of identity fraud, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
“This prosecution of a California state employee for bribery resulting in grave danger to public safety is very troubling,” U.S. Attorney Scott stated. ”It is alarming to think that unqualified persons were licensed to operate big rigs and buses on our public roadways. We will continue to do everything we can to root out public corruption at any level, and hold those in positions of trust accountable for their greed.”
According to evidence presented at trial, Turchin was an employee at the Salinas field office for the Department of Motor Vehicles, including between 2012 and 2015. Turchin was responsible for conducting tests for applicants for commercial licenses to operate 18-wheel tractor-trailers and commercial buses.
The trial evidence demonstrated that truck school owner Mangal Gill offered to get people commercial licenses without having to pass the written tests or even take the required behind-the-wheel tests. Gill worked with Turchin and another DMV employee, Emma Klem, to have them access the DMV database to fraudulently update the tests at Gill’s request.
During the investigation, confidential operatives were able to obtain three official commercial licenses in 2013 and 2014. Collectively, they paid Gill over $12,000 after Turchin and Klem accessed the DMV database to fraudulently enter passing scores for the operatives despite the fact that the operatives did not pass or otherwise take the required tests. The trial evidence also demonstrated that Gill and Turchin continued to be involved in this fraudulent conduct until March 28, 2015, days before agents executed search warrants and found in Turchin’s vehicle slips of paper containing the numbers of fraudulently updated driver license records as well as several envelopes full of cash totaling over $10,000. The trial evidence showed that Turchin and his co-conspirators falsified DMV database records for at least 40 individuals for the purpose of obtaining commercial licenses.
This case is the product of a series of ongoing investigations by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the California DMV Office of Internal Affairs. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Todd A. Pickles and Rosanne Rust are prosecuting the case.
Co-defendants Gill and Klem previously pleaded guilty to counts of conspiracy to commit bribery and identity fraud and are awaiting sentencing.
Turchin is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. on September 21, 2018. Turchin faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and a maximum of 15 years in prison for the fraud involving identification documents counts, and up to a $250,000 fine per each count. The actual sentence, however, will 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.