On February 18, 2015, I wrote about a New York City-area scheme where three individuals helped as many as 500 people cheat on the Commercial Driver’s License (“CDL”) test. More recently, a multi-agency investigation in Florida has uncovered a similar scheme involving a commercial truck driving school. The Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, the FBI, Homeland Security and the Florida Highway Patrol joined forces to uncover the plot, which enabled unqualified drivers to receive CDLs. Ellariy Medvednik, Natalia Dontsova, Adrian Salari and Clarence Davis were all charged in connection with the investigation. These people were affiliated with Larex, Inc., a commercial truck driving school that marketed itself to Russian-speakers online.

By way of background, an individual must possess a Florida driver’s license before attempting to obtain a Florida CDL. Only Florida residents can obtain driver’s licenses and, accordingly, Florida CDLs. The multi-agency investigation revealed that individuals residing outside of Florida would contact Medvednik to arrange for Larex’s services at the cost of approximately $2,000. Those out-of-state individuals would then travel to Florida to obtain a Florida driver’s license with the intention of returning to their home states immediately afterward. It is alleged that Medvednik, Dontsova and Salari conspired to provide false documentation which indicated that the out-of-state individuals resided with them, so that the unqualified drivers could obtain Florida driver’s licenses.

After providing the false residency certifications, Larex assisted the students with the additional requirements for obtaining a CDL. First, Dontsova, using covert communication equipment, provided answers to the students during the written portion of the CDL exam. Upon the successful completion of the CDL examination, the student would receive a commercial learner’s permit. Second, Larex hired Davis, a third-party tester authorized by the State of Florida, to administer vehicle inspection tests, basic control skills tests and road tests. The investigation revealed that Davis routinely passed and certified students who should have failed based on their test performance. As a result of Davis’s certifications, the individuals were able to obtain Florida CDLs. Medvednik compensated Davis approximately $75 per student above his posted rate. At least 600 individuals have been identified as utilizing Larex’s services with Davis as the third-party tester.

Consequently, we are sharing the roadways with as many 600 unfit, unqualified and incompetent commercial motor vehicle drivers, which is both an extraordinary and unnecessary danger. Hopefully, the unlawfully licensed drivers will be pulled off of the roadways before they can injure or kill innocent motorists.

Regardless of who is behind the wheel of another vehicle, the best way to protect yourself on the road is to be alert and aware of your surroundings and follow the rules of the road. If you’ve been involved in an accident, don’t hesitate to contact appropriate counsel for advice.