Feds say DMV employees traded cash for licenses

-  SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- As many as 100 commercial truck drivers paid up to $5,000 each to bribe state Department of Motor Vehicles employees for illegal California licenses, federal authorities said Tuesday.
 
   Emma Klem, a 45-year-old Salinas DMV employee, and trucking school owner Kulwinder Dosanjh Singh, 58, of Turlock, both pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit bribery and to commit identity fraud, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento said.
 
   Two other DMV employees in Salinas and Sacramento and two other Central Valley trucking school operators have been arrested on similar charges.
 
   Court records say the employees changed computer records to falsely show that drivers had passed written and behind-the-wheel tests after they were bribed by the owners of three truck driving schools between June 2011 and March 2015.
 
   DMV examiners Andrew Kimura, 30, of Sacramento, and Robert Turchin, 65, of Salinas, were indicted last week on charges of conspiracy, bribery and fraud in connection with identification documents, along with trucking school owners Pavitar Dosangh Singh, 55, of Sacramento, and Mangal Gill, 55, of San Ramon.
 
   Pavitar Singh and Kimura have pleaded not guilty, while Turchin and Gill are to be arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. 
 
   Kimura's attorney, William Portanova, said his client is a good person caught in an unfortunate situation, "but we're going to work through it and help this young man."
 
   Class A commercial drivers' licenses like the ones involved in some of the alleged bribes are required to operate trucks including 18-wheel cargo semitrailers. They are tougher to obtain than regular driver licenses. Applicants must pass both a written test and a behind-the-wheel test that is offered at a limited number of DMV locations, including Salinas. 
 
   Charges filed in federal court in Sacramento allege three separate conspiracies. Two of them purportedly involved Gill, who owns trucking schools in Fremont, Lathrop, Fresno, and Salinas.
 
   The third involved Pavitar Singh, owner of a school in Sacramento. His attorney, Anthony Capozzi of Fresno, and Christopher Morales of San Francisco, attorney for Kulwinder Singh, did not return telephone messages.
 
   Attorneys for the two people who pleaded guilty did not immediately return telephone messages Tuesday. No attorneys were listed for the two defendants who have yet to appear in court.
 
   The DMV has cancelled or revoked some licenses that appeared to have been obtained illegally, and it is checking whether any of the drivers have since been involved in crashes, authorities said. 
 
   Klem and Kulwinder Singh face up to five years in prison after their guilty pleas.

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