Feds: Secretary of State employees took bribes to pass driving tests
Sun-Times Media Wire November 14, 2011 3:02PM
Updated: December 16, 2011 8:14AM
Two former road test examiners for the Secretary of State’s Office accepted about $40,000 in cash bribes to pass customers who were unqualified or never took the road test, according to a federal indictment announced Monday.
Christopher Wardlaw, 36, and Alanda Jackson, 31, both of Chicago, are charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit extortion, a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
The charges stem from a 2009 investigation into an alleged crime ring involving the selling of fraudulent identification documents in Chinatown on the Near South Side, the release said.
Wardlaw was arrested Monday and released on his own recognizance by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffery T. Gilbert after the indictment was unsealed Monday, the release said. Jackson was ordered to voluntarily appear for arraignment but was not arrested.
Wardlaw and Jackson were road test examiners at the Secretary of State’s Chicago South Facility at 9901 S. King Dr.
Between 2005 and 2007, Wardlaw and Jackson conspired with previously charged defendants to accept cash bribes to guarantee that an unspecified number of customers would pass the road test, enabling them to obtain an Illinois driver’s license, the indictment alleges.
According to the indictment, Wardlaw and Jackson conspired with another former Secretary of State employee, Timothy Johnson, as well as Jun Yun Zhang, Lili Liu, Tiansheng Zhang and others who were indicted in 2009 and have pleaded guilty to related charges, the release said.
The Zhangs and other defendants would escort customers to driver’s license facilities to fraudulently obtain state ID cards or driver’s licenses, typically using counterfeit or altered Chinese passports and legitimate Social Security account numbers that were assigned to other people, the release said.
Wardlaw and Jackson would guarantee passing results on the road test by serving as the examiner and passing the customer even if they failed, or by obtaining the road test paperwork and indicating the customer passed when they never took the test.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of $40,000, representing the total of the alleged bribes.
The charges are part of Operation Paper Mountain, which has resulted in federal charges against about three dozen defendants since 2009.