MVC guard from Toms River charged in bribes-for-licenses probe
TRENTON - A Toms River man, employed as a private security guard at the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) branch in Lodi, is one of nine co-defendants in what state investigators describe as a bribery scheme that let hundreds of people to get driving permits and licenses without tests.
Mark Hingston, 55, and eight others are charged with second-degree conspiracy and computer criminal activity, and third-degree records tampering, as part of the investigation of former Lodi MVC clert Rodman Lora, 39, of Ridgewood, NY, according to the office of state Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.
The probe began in the aftermath of the discovery of discrepancies during a MVC internal audit and investigation.
Lora is accused of altering MVC records for more than 220 people between 2014 and 2016, in return for bribes averaging more than $700 for each document, authorities said.
Lora faces second-degree counts of official misconduct and pattern of official misconduct, each with a possible sentence of five to 10 years on conviction, with no parole consideration before five years served. He's also charged with conspiracy and computer criminal activity, and a third-degree charge of tampering with public records or information.
Hingston and MVC clerk Rose Vargas, 51, of Lodi, are listed as co-conspirators. Investigators allege that Lora entered a passing grade for an exam that HIngston never took, to earn a commercial driver's permit and license. Vargas is accused of obtaining a motorcycle license without taking the written test.
Listed as runners, used to recruit applicants, are Masood Ahmadi, 54, of Lake Hiawatha, Luis Tiburcio, 46, of Passaic, and Carlos Vicuna, 36, of Elizabeth.
Investigators allege that Ahmadi, owner of the Ideal Transportation school bus firm, mostly recruited relatives seeking jobs with his company. The firm has contracts with several schools and districts in North Jersey, investigators said, leaving their identities undisclosed.
Alleged customers identified by authorities, accused of skipping the written exams for licensing, are Wander Jimenez-Villanueva, 25, of Bogota; Angel Nunez-Lora, 27, of Parlin; Jose Lora, 44, of Newark; and Wilge Rojas, 55, of Clifton.
Jose Lora, Angel Nunez-Lora and Rojas allegedly received commercial driver's licenses. Investigators believe that Jimenez-Villanueva obtained a Class D license after failing the written test four times.
Convictions for second-degree crimes entail possible sentences of up to 10 years and fines up to $150,000. Third-degree charges are punishable by up to five years in prison and $15,000 fines.
Authorities did not clarify whether Rodman Lora, Jose Lora and Angel Nunez-Lora are related, nor did they elaborate regarding the circumstances that separate the defendants from the more than 220 that they claim took advantage of the scheme.
The case is assigned to Bergen County Superior Court in Hackensack. Hingston is represented by Passaic attorney Anthony J. Fusco.
Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.
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