Driving school owner, clerk accused of taking bribes for licenses

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DENVER — The owner of an Aurora driving school and the school’s clerk face federal charges Wednesday in which they’re accused of taking bribes in exchange for documents to get driver licenses.

An indictment says it didn’t matter if the people getting the licenses passed the tests.

Stuart King, 52, owner of Little Lake Driving Academy, and Griselda Trevino De Valenzuela, 42, the driving school’s clerk, were arraigned in U.S. District Court in Denver Wednesday.

U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Jeffrey Dorschner says they’re charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, Social Security Fraud and Bribery.

King is free on $100,000 property bond; De Valenzuela is in jail without bond.

The Little Lake Driving Academy at 1415 Havana St. in Aurora administered written and driving exams on behalf of the State of Colorado.

The indictment says the defendants devised a scheme to defraud the State of Colorado Revenue Department “by falsely certifying that applicants for a Colorado Driver’s License and instruction permit had successfully completed the required testing,” Dorschner says.

Investigators say this took place from August 2009 to November 2012.

“As part of the scheme, defendants charged approximately $130 to $420 in cash payments from applicants in return for fraudulently issuing passing grades.  The defendants are also alleged to have falsified the written test results for applicants who could not speak, read and/or write English adequately, or could not pass the written test for other reasons,” he says.

Read the full indictment here.

Dorschner says the suspects brought people who could not read, write or speak English to Colorado from Missouri and other states. Those brought here had Missouri IDs they obtained with stolen identities. They turned in those Missouri IDs for Colorado driver licenses.

“Defendants charged approximately $130 to $420 in cash payments from applicants in return for fraudulently issuing passing grades,” Dorschner says.

A tentative trial date of June 3, 2013 has been set.

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