FBI: Truck-Driving School Targeting Russian Speakers Busted For Illegal Licensing
According to FBI officials, federal and state authorities recently charged three Florida residents with operating a fraudulent business for commercial driver’s licenses.
Ellariy Medvednik, 48, Natalia Dontsova, 49, Adrian Salari, 44, and Clarence Davis 76, have all been officially charged with conspiracy to aid and abet the unlawful production of Florida driver licenses and commercial driver licenses (“CDLs”).
According to the indictment, the defendants in the case were affiliated with a business call Larex, Inc., a commercial truck driving school. Larex marketed itself to Russian speakers online. Individuals residing out-of-state seeking Florida CDLs would contact Medvednik to arrange for Larex’s services at the cost of approximately $2,000.
Officials claim that these individuals would then travel to Florida to obtain their CDLs with the intention of returning to their home states immediately afterward. However, to obtain a Florida CDL, an individual must first possess a Florida driver license.
United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley III has stated that the State of Florida restricts its driver licenses and CDLs to Florida residents. Medvednik, Dontsova, and Salari conspired to provide false documentation that the individuals resided with them, so that the individuals could obtain Florida driver licenses, authorities stated.
After allegedly 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, the successful completion of which led to the issuance of a commercial learner’s permit, Bentley stated.
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. According to the United States Attorney, 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. In return, Davis received from Medvednik 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.
Bentley has stressed that all parties are innocent until proven guilty.
“An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty,” Bentley released in a statement.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Florida Highway Patrol. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Embry J. Kidd.
If convicted on all counts, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.