Former Bakersfield DMV Employee Pleads Guilty to Issuing Commercial Driver’s Licenses to Unqualified Drivers in Exchange for Bribes

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FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Department of Justice Building is pictured

FRESNO, Calif. — Ulises Pena, 39, a former California Department of Motor Vehicles employee in Bakersfield, pleaded guilty Monday to illegally producing California commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) in exchange for bribes, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court records, Pena was a Motor Vehicle Representative at the DMV and was responsible for processing driver’s license applications. From January 2015 through August 2016, he arranged for the passage of written tests for students from co-defendant Bikramjit Singh Pannu’s truck driving school who were having trouble passing the tests in exchange for payments from Pannu. Pena improperly accessed the students’ DMV records and altered them to show that the students had passed the tests when that was not true. His alterations caused the fraudulent issuance of CDLs to the unqualified students.

This case is the product of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the California DMV’s Internal Affairs Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph Barton and David Gappa are prosecuting the case.

Charges are pending against Pannu. He is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Pena has agreed to cooperate with the government in its ongoing case against Pannu. Pena is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ana de Alba on Dec. 12, 2022. Pena faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

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