Florida Truck Driving School Tester Jailed in CDL Bribery Probe
June 06, 2002
Hilary M. Winniczek, a former employee of REACT, Inc., a Tampa truck-driving school, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Chicago, IL, for helping unqualified truck drivers obtain Florida commercial driver's licenses (CDLs) in return for bribes. Working with his partner Tony Puleo, Winniczek was charged with helping more than 1,000 unqualified Eastern European and Russian applicants obtain CDLs in return for $800 to $1,300 in cash bribes. Winniczek gave the applicants answers to the written CDL test and signed that the applicants had passed the practical driving test when no test was given. Two of the truckers were later involved in two separate accidents with a total of nine fatalities. Typically, the applicants used the Florida CDLs to obtain commercial licenses in Illinois and at least 19 other states. Winniczek was sentenced to 22 months in jail and fined $7,500. Puleo is waiting to be sentenced. The investigation was part of Operation Safe Road, an investigation by a task force involving OIG, the FBI, the IRS Criminal Investigative Division, Postal Inspection Service, and Illinois State Police.