More Corruption and Bribery Uncovered at CA DMV

DMVThe state Department of Motor Vehicles used to be a symbol of bureaucratic inefficiency, the subject of decades of jokes by Jay Leno and other California-based comedians. But then something unexpected happened: The DMV adopted to the computer era better than most state agencies and is often easy to use nowadays, both in scheduling appointments and in handling registration and some license renewals online.

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Now, however, the agency is becoming notorious for another problem: chronic corruption. This is from an Aug. 11 AP report:

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.

Up to 23 traffic accidents could be related to the fraud, officials said, though there were no fatalities.

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 identity fraud, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner 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. …

The DMV revoked or cancelled 602 commercial licenses that could be linked to the fraud, including the 100 that were pinpointed by investigators, said Frank Alvarez, the DMV’s chief investigator.

Bribery cases concentrated in San Diego County

This is only one of several recent cases. This is from a June Union-Tribune report:

— A California Highway Patrol officer is the second person to be charged in connection with a DMV bribery scandal.

Carlos Ravelo is accused of illegally transferring a temporary driver’s license to a driver, once in September 2013 and again in January 2014, according to an indictment unsealed in San Diego federal court last month.

Ravelo is a 13-year veteran officer and works at the CHP’s El Cajon station.

In March, a Westminster DMV employee was arrested and charged with two counts related to taking bribes to provide driver’s licenses.

The Los Angeles Times also notes other cases in San Diego County:

In February, a San Diego DMV official pleaded guilty to accepting bribes for setting aside license suspensions and providing unauthorized temporary licenses to drivers who had lost theirs after being arrested on DUI charges.

Last year, five employees of the DMV’s El Cajon and Rancho San Diego offices were convicted in connection with a bribery scam in which licenses were improperly provided to clients of a local driving school.

Low starting pay may be driving scandals

These are in addition to 21 FBI arrests related to bribery at the same two offices in May 2012. This is from the FBI’s press release:

United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced today that employees at the California Department of Motor Vehicles in San Diego County were charged in a criminal complaint for their involvement in a long-running bribery conspiracy that resulted in the production of hundreds of fraudulent driver licenses for applicants who had failed — or not taken — the required driver license tests.

The complaint alleges that DMV officials at the El Cajon DMV office … and the Rancho San Diego DMV office … falsely entered both “passing” written and “passing” driving test scores for applicants in exchange for bribes ranging up to $3,000 per license.

In addition to the DMV employees, 16 other defendants were charged in the complaint. … According to court documents, the corruption scheme involved the fraudulent production of both Class C (regular) and Commercial Class A driver licenses. Hundreds of applicants paid recruiters approximately $400- $500 for each fraudulent Class C license … .

Considering that the starting pay of a “business service assistant” at DMV can be as low as $29,940 a year, this may be behind clerks deciding to augment their income illegally.


  1. steve forst says

    I sent the state of corruption 20 dollars for a duplicate title after I moved to Arizona–after a month or so–no title- but they kept the check and sent me a bill for 95 dollars for registration–what part of I don’t live there any more don’t they understand? maybe the address to send my title to?

  2. steve forst says

    perhaps because I sent it there in English?

  3. The starting pay is not to blame, the character of the employee is.
    That they were willing to risk the security of their life-time sinecure for a few more bucks in-hand is a character question, not an economic one.

  4. No one is mandating people work for the DMV; it is a personal choice. Honesty comes with most jobs, depending on the moral compass employees bring to the work place.

  5. Corruption is a cancer.
    The Virtues of Honor and Integrity seem to be missing in our state government.
    And, more so are they missing in our federal government.
    And the cancer grows!

  6. A bunch of state workers were part of the “welfare to work” programs years ago. SO no wonder they don’t value their jobs or HUGE pensions “We lowly taxpayers” will have to shell out for. You can take a person out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the person.

  7. dumpster D says

    Yep, now commiefornia drivers no why they are meeting dunecoon
    drivers on the wrong side of the road, pulling out of driveways into on coming traffic, not stopping at 4 way intersections and accelerating
    on that yellow light knowing all the while they won’t make it before the light turns red. Worst drivers I have ever had to defend against on commiefornia roads. Never have I had to dodge and wear out my horn
    on a specific class of drivers in my life. It doesn’t surprise me in the least these dunecoons have to buy their driver licenses. They certainly couldn’t pass a written test much less a driver’s test. If you ever visit
    El Cajon you’ll know why it’s nick name is little bagdad. When you drive
    down town just about every business on both sides of the street are spelled out in camel spit. I don’t drive there unless I absolutely
    have to and don’t ever walk on the street you’ll get run over!

  8. Are you serious, making excuses for these people. They new what their pay was going to be when they were hired. Wake up and quit making excuses, Your as bad as the people that committed these crimes. My father died from injuries in received from combat, and my mother was left to raise 7 children by herself. There is know excuse for their actions, but greed. Its people like yourself that try and sugar coat issues like this.

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