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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Alabama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 26, 2019

Owner of Lee County Truck Driving School Charged with Bribery and Wire Fraud Offenses

            Montgomery, AL –      On Thursday, July 25, 2019, James Welburn, 72, a resident of Columbus, Georgia and the owner of American Truck Driving Academy, located in Lee County, Alabama, was arrested after being indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in Montgomery, Alabama, announced United States Attorney Louis V. Franklin, Sr.

            The indictment charges that Welburn paid bribes to a commercial driver’s license (CDL) examiner in exchange for the examiner showing preferential treatment to American Truck Driving Academy students when those students took CDL driving exams. Specifically, Welburn paid the examiner $25 per student tested by the examiner. In exchange for these $20 bribes, the examiner agreed to do things like: (1) test students even though students had not possessed learner’s permits for at least 14 days, as required by federal regulations; (2) test more than five students in a single day, in violation of state law; and (3) refrain from testing students on certain trucking maneuvers if the students were unlikely to be able to perform the maneuvers. Additionally, the examiner agreed to give American Truck Driving Academy students “the benefit of the doubt” on all road tests.

            The indictment charges Welburn with conspiracy, bribery, and wire fraud offenses. If convicted of the most serious charges, Welburn faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each count. He also faces substantial monetary penalties and restitution.

            An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

            This case was investigated by the United States Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General with assistance from the Georgia Department of Drivers Services, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan S. Ross and Thomas R. Govan, Jr. are prosecuting the case.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated July 30, 2019