Man accused of helping immigrants on driver’s license tests
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former Pennsylvania Department of Transportation employee accused by authorities of charging immigrants up to $350 to help pass the knowledge test and ultimately obtain driver’s licenses said Wednesday he was seeking to help them.
Angelo Carrion, 66, charged immigrants to furnish them with correct answers to get learner’s permits and ultimately secure their licenses, according to an affidavit. He also submitted incomplete applications or applications that were not verified for immigration or citizenship status, the charging documents state.
Carrion was charged with 17 felony counts of bribery in official matters, one felony count each of theft by deception and criminal use of a communication facility, and 17 felony counts plus 35 misdemeanor counts of tampering with public records or information, Pennsylvania State Police announced Wednesday.
Carrion also allegedly would give out his personal cell phone number to Spanish-speaking PennDOT customers so that they could set up appointments, check on their license status or for referrals, according to the affidavit.
Police said everyone in the investigation was in the country legally and eligible to receive licenses.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Carrion said that he plans to plead no contest, though “I felt that 90% of those charges were unfounded, without merit,” he said.
He said that he assisted “certain individuals” who did not speak the type of Spanish that appeared on the test.
“That was my motive, to help them,” he said.
Carrion said he did not currently have an attorney, and was waiting to see if he would qualify for a public defender.
Carrion was employed at two driver’s license centers in Lancaster County where he worked as a driver’s license examiner assistant starting in 2019; he resigned in April after an internal investigation found irregularities with 268 license or identification cards that Carrion allegedly handled between October 2021 and March 2022, according to the affidavit.
Police interviewed 35 of the applicants where it was suspected that Carrion had tampered with tests or failed to verify their immigration status, the affidavit said. In interviews with the customers, mostly identified as Spanish-speaking in the affidavit, some allegedly failed the knowledge test as many as 13 times before Carrion was the one to administer the test.
Police said that many of Carrion’s customers were required to test again and many did not pass the re-testing process.
Brooke Schultz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.