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Four Massachusetts troopers arrested by feds in ‘CDLs for sale’ scheme

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Six people, including four current and former Massachusetts state troopers, and have been arrested by federal authorities in connection with a Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) bribery scheme.

On Tuesday morning, Acting U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Joshua Levy announced six arrests in a years-long scheme to dole out unearned CDLs in exchange for bribes.

“In short, as alleged in this indictment, the CDLs were for sale and troopers were bribed with free goods to pass applicants no matter how they performed on the test,” said Levy.

Those arrested include active Massachusetts State Police (MSP) Sgt. Gary Cederquist, 58, and Trooper Joel Rogers, 54, as well as retired Troopers Calvin Butner, 63, and Perry Mendes, 63, and two other civilian co-conspirators, Scott Camara, 42, and Eric Mathison, 47.

Authorities have filed a 74 count indictment against the six defendants.

Levy says that the defendants were charged with with three counts of conspiracy to falsify records, three counts of conspiracy to commit extortion, three counts of extortion, six counts of honest services mail fraud, 31 counts of falsification of records, 27 counts of false statements, and one count of perjury.

According to charging documents, Cederquist, Butner, Mendes, Rogers and others conspired to give least 17 CDL applicants passing scores whether or not they actually passed their skills test, using the word “golden” in text messages to signify that these applicants should be passed.

“Total mess this guy I think some time we should just do what we can but not golden,” read one of the text messages included in the indictment documents.

“Golden mess,” another text message read.

Authorities also say that Cederquist falsely reported that four Class A CDL applicants who were MSP Troopers took and passed the CDL skills test when they “did not pass the skills test and that they drove a vehicle which did not qualify as a Class A vehicle.”

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office:

It is further alleged that Cederquist conspired with his friend Mathison, who worked for a spring water company that employed drivers who needed CDLs, to give passing scores to certain applicants affiliated with the water company. The indictment alleges that Cederquist gave passing scores to three such applicants who actually failed, in exchange for bribes of free inventory from the water company, such as cases of bottled Fiji, VOSS and Essentia water, cases of bottled Arizona Iced Tea, and coffee and tea products, all of which Mathison delivered to an office trailer at the CDL test site in Stoughton. The indictment alleges that Cederquist sent Mathison a text describing one of these applicants as “an idiot,” who had “no idea what he’s doing,” and “should have failed about 10 times already.” It is alleged that Cederquist then texted Mathison that Mathison’s boss “owes big time.”

The indictment also alleges that Butner assisted with this conspiracy, including by giving Mathison a key to the Stoughton yard so that Mathison could drop off water company inventory even when the test site was closed. The indictment alleges that Mendes also took part in the conspiracy, including by accepting cases of Fiji and VOSS water from Mathison immediately after administering an incomplete skills test to a new driver for the water company, with Mathison helping to put the cases in Mendes’s cruiser. It is alleged that on one occasion Mathison texted Cederquist that he was heading to the water company’s warehouse in Bridgewater, writing: “Was heading to Bridgewater seeing if you all need anything on return trip. Did you get a new key for the midnight express,” to which Cederquist replied, “Not yet but I need Voss and Italian toast espresso and some decaf for an old timer at the office.”

According to the charging document, in addition to Mathison’s bribes of free inventory from the water company, Cederquist accepted additional bribes in exchange for using his official position as the Sergeant in charge of MSP’s CDL Unit to give preferential treatment to certain CDL applicants including, but also a $750 granite post and mailbox; a new driveway valued at over $10,000; and a snow blower valued at nearly $2,000. The indictment alleges that Cederquist described one such applicant as “horrible,” and “brain dead,” but gave him a passing score anyway in exchange for the snow blower.

Those identified as unqualified applicants who received a CDL through the scheme have been reported to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.  

MSP issued the following statement on Tuesday’s indictment:

The Department condemns the actions of the four current and former CDL Unit members as alleged in the federal indictment and our internal affairs investigation. The alleged misconduct of those defendants is the antithesis of and in stark contrast to the values, character, and integrity exhibited by the overwhelming majority of our Troopers every day in service to the public.

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