School bus drivers nabbed in license fraud crackdown

March 24, 2011 2:39:58 PM PDT
Two New York City school bus drivers were arrested Thursday morning, accused of fraudulently obtaining licenses.

The men, drivers in Queens, had reportedly been driving with suspended licenses, in one instance for more than 15 years. They were picked up by detectives with the Queens District Attorney's Office for obtaining new licenses by submitting false names and different dates of birth and social security numbers to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The arrests were part of an ongoing crackdown by the state DMV on commercial bus drivers, in the wake of the fatal Bronx bus crash.

State investigators are coordinating stings with the district attorneys' offices in all five boroughs.

Mel Marion, of the Little Richie Bus Service of Queens, was arrested during his route Thursday. Investigators located him by using his bus' GPS system. He had picked up one special needs child and was on the way to pick up more.

"Marion works for one of our contracted companies," Department of Education spokeswoman Marge Feinberg said. "He is being suspended without pay pending the outcome of the court case."

George Gonsalves, who is currently not employed by a commercial bus company, was also arrested.

Feinberg said Gonsalves is not employed by an DOE contractor.

The two were nabbed using facial recognition technology, which red flags a person who are detected to have licenses under different names. In these cases, the suspects had a valid commercial drivers' licenses in one name and summonses in the other.

"Millions of New Yorkers use buses every year, and should be able to have confidence in the safety of the system," Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "The DMV and other state agencies are coordinating efforts with local law enforcement and using the latest technology to make our roads and highways safer. I applaud them for their swift actions."

These cases are similar to that of tour bus driver Ophadell Williams, who had a commercial drivers license under one name and a license with prior summonses on another.