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California DMV Workers Charged After Accepting Bribes

By: Ryan Gallagher November 9, 2017
Investigators say California DMV workers accepted thousands in cash bribes to issue commercial driver's licenses.

After more than six years, undercover investigators from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security have charged two Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employees with conspiracy to commit bribery, identity theft, and unauthorized access of a computer. The charges were filed Oct. 18 in Sacramento federal court. 

Allegedly, two DMV workers—and maybe more—accepted monetary bribes from truck driving school owners. In return, the DMV employees would change department records to reflect that drivers had passed written and driving tests when, in fact, these drivers may have failed or not taken the tests at all. The investigation is ongoing. 

Kari Scattaglia, 38, an employee and manager in the Granada Hills and Arleta DMV offices, and 51-year-old Lisa Terraciano, an employee in the Winnetka DMV office, both allegedly took part in the scandal from September 2014 until April 2017.

“In total, the broker co-conspirators were paid no less than $18,600 for the issuance of fraudulent licenses through defendants Scattaglia, Terraciano and the other DMV co-conspirators,” court documents say.

Last year, an undercover investigator posed as a truck driving student and offered Scattaglia $1,500 in exchange for a Class A commercial license—a credential that allows an individual to drive a truck weighing over 26,001 pounds, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Scattaglia instructed the undercover agent to deposit money directly into her bank account. The undercover agent had purposefully failed a written driving exam, but the DMV employee altered the department database to reflect a passing score.

Another undercover agent went through the same process with Terraciano, depositing $9,000 in her account after reaching a similar agreement.

These recent charges come after three DMV employees were accused of the same crimes two years ago. The 2015 charges as well as the most recent charges this year, came as a result of the investigation that started in 2011.

“Public corruption cases are a matter of the highest priority for the Department of Justice at both the state and federal levels, because it is the system itself that is under attack,” said William Portanova, who represented a DMV defendant involved in the 2015 case.

Both women could receive a five-year prison sentence; however, the date of their hearing has not yet been released. Neither woman has publicly commented in regard to the current case.

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