The owner of a truck driving school in Alabama allegedly bribed a CDL examiner to pass his students – sometimes without even taking the test. According to the indictment, the bribe cost only $25 per student.
James F. Welburn is the owner of American Truck Driving Academy (ATDA) in Lee County, Alabama. The 72-year-old was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges including conspiracy, bribery, and wire fraud.
According to the indictment, ATDA offered a three-week CDL course. At the end of which, Welburn sent his students to get tested by an unnamed CDL examiner in Georgia. Welburn allegedly bribed the examiner, paying him $25 per student. In return he gave the students “favorable treatment.” That allegedly meant anything from skipping portions of the skills test which Welburn believed the students wouldn’t be able to pass, to skipping the skills test entirely.
It isn’t clear how many bribes are alleged to have been given, nor how many CDLs should not have been issued. The scheme is alleged to have been conducted starting in February 2015, and lasting through April 2018.
This indictment comes as the Department of Transportation is considering allowing CDL schools to administer skills tests to their own students. Critics of the proposal have voiced concern that doing so would allow CDL schools to more give students passing grades without teaching them to safely operate a commercial truck.
According to reporting from Freightwaves, ATDA is still open and accepting new students.