Brooklyn Judge throws out case against fraudulent driving school instructors
After the U.S. government announced charges in a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) cheating scheme, a Brooklyn federal judge has reconsidered the guilty pleas of two driving school instructors charged, in an unrelated case, with assisting applicants in fraudulently obtaining Commercial Drivers’ Licenses (CDL).
In 2012, Ying Wai Philip Ng, 48, and his wife, Pui Kuen Ng, 49, of Brooklyn were charged with conspiring to help non-English-speaking Chinese immigrants cheat on the written portion of the CDL test.
The charging papers allege that before applicants sat for the written portion of the CDL test, Mr. Ng “provided them with a paging device and a jacket containing a hidden video camera that wirelessly transmitted video images to a video screen in the minivan.” Mr. Ng would then send numbered pages to the applicants indicating the correct answer for each question on the exam.
The Ngs were also charged with the federal crime of conspiracy to commit mail fraud by causing to be mailed and delivered by the United States Postal Services envelopes sent by the DMV containing fraudulently obtained CDLs.
Foregoing a trial, the Ngs pleaded guilty to the charges at hand and faced a combined sentence of 105 months in prison. Looking over the facts at hand, Brooklyn Federal Judge I. Leo Glasser, assigned to the Ngs’ case, expressed doubt as to the sufficiency of the federal charge of mail fraud.
Federal law makes it a crime to use the mail or wire communication to obtain money or property by false or fraudulent pretenses. The Ngs actions, however, did not fall under federal jurisdiction, Glasser ruled last week throwing out the Ngs’ guilty pleas.
The crime that the Ngs committed was to defraud the New York State DMV, Glasser ruled. Having already committed a fraudulent scheme by cheating on the CDL exam, the mailings of the fraudulently obtained CDLs “were not ‘for the purpose of executing the fraud,’ the scheme having reached fruition,” Glasser wrote, citing case precedent.
The federal mail statute only applies to frauds where the “use of the mail is part of the execution of the fraud,” Glasser further explained.
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