The owner of an Alabama truck driving school was arrested last week and stands accused of offering bribes in exchange for preferential treatment for his students.
On Thursday, July 25, 72 year old James Welburn was arrested after he was indicted by a federal grand jury. He has been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy, and bribery
Welburn owns and operates the American Truck Driving School, located in Lee County, Alabama.
According to prosecutors, Welburn paid bribes of $25 per student to a commercial drivers license examiner in order to obtain special treatment for his students, WSFA reports.
The preferential treatment included administering the CDL test even if the student had not had his learners permit for 14 days as required by law, testing more than 5 students in a single day (a violation of state law), and not administering portions of the tests that the student was deemed likely to fail. The CDL examiner also reportedly agreed to give American Truck Driving School students the “benefit of the doubt” on driving tests in exchange for the bribes.
It isn’t clear how long the bribery scheme had been going on or how many students benefitted from the relaxed testing standards.
If convicted, Welburn faces fines, restitution, and up to 20 years in prison per count.
Agencies assisting with the investigation include the United States Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General, the Georgia Department of Drivers Services, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the United States Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.