DEVELOPING: Truck Driving School Owner Paid Bribes to CDL Examiner to Pass Students
Montgomery, AL – On Tuesday, a former owner of a truck driving school in Alabama admitted in federal court he paid bribes to a commercial driver’s license (CDL) examiner.
The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama says James F. Welburn, 72, of Columbus, GA has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery in relation to federal programs.
According to court documents, Welburn paid bribes to a CDL examiner in exchange for the examiner showing preferential treatment to Lee County, AL-based 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 payments, 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.”
Welburn, who was indicted in July of 2019 on conspiracy, bribery, and wire fraud charges, will have a sentencing hearing scheduled in the next few months.
He faces up to five years in prison along with substantial monetary penalties and restitution.
The examiner has not yet been identified and it is not clear what his current employment status is.
It is also unclear at this time how long the alleged scheme lasted and how many students were shown leniency in the CDL testing process.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), American Truck Driving Academy began in 1999 and employs 8 people.