Two Long Islanders were among 19 people accused of cheating on commercial driver's license tests so they could drive vehicles such as school buses and trucks hauling hazardous materials, authorities said Thursday.
Among those arrested were eight people -- including a man from Valley Stream and one from Westbury -- who authorities said paid between $1,400 and $4,000 to people who provided the answers to the test.
Investigators found the cheating occurred in a number of Department of Motor Vehicles locations, including facilities in Massapequa and Jamaica, Queens, and on Greenwich Street in Manhattan and in Harlem. Two informants provided the initial tips.
As many as 200 people may have cheated to receive commercial licenses, officials said.
Jackson Gilles of Westbury and Michael Cayo of Valley Stream were among those arrested. Gilles could not be reached by phone. Gilles cheated, officials said, at the Greenwich Street DMV facility in Manhattan. Cayo also could not be reached by phone.
"Our investigation uncovered numerous people who paid others thousands of dollars for answers to a test they could not answer without cheating, a scheme which undermined the system designed to ensure the security of our roads and communities," said state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, whose office investigated the case with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.
On Long Island, investigators said they found one of the accused ringleaders would hand out pencils outside the DMV site in Massapequa and that test answers would be carved into the pencils, which people used to take the test. Apparently people learned about the pencil provider by word-of-mouth and simply walked up to him to obtain them. They returned the pencils after they took the test.
The commercial driver's license test consists of a core exam but also deals with specialized subjects such as hazardous material transport.
People who take the tests already have a regular driver's license.
Scott said it appeared one of the eight initial cheaters had obtained a job as a truck driver for a New York City beer distributor.
In another version, authorities said, three security guards employed by a company that contracted with the state at DMV locations in New York City participated in the fraud. People learned by word-of-mouth that they should get their test papers when they arrived and then approach the guards. The guards would either allow the people to take the papers to a runner or would take the papers from those being tested and give them to the runners themselves. The runners would then carry the test to someone waiting at a nearby restaurant who answered the tests correctly. The runners would then return the tests to the guards and the cheaters.
Those accused of cheating were charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, while 11 people who officials said facilitated the scam and provided test answers were charged with attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.