PennDOT sacrificed security over safety, allowing some of the city's most dangerous thugs to get a driver's license. That's the bottom line of a grand jury investigation.
"The grand jury has been outraged at the historic security laxity and lack of concern by PennDOT, in light of potentially devastating consequences of terrorists and other criminals being able to fraudulently obtain drivers' licenses," according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
During the 18-month investigation, Attorney General Tom Corbett says 45 people were arrested. The latest arrest came Tuesday when Robert T. Banks was charged with more than forty counts of forgery and tampering with public records. Banks is accused of obtaining fake licenses through PennDOT and selling them on the street for as much as $1,200.
Cassius Broaster and James Drayton -- two of Philly's notorious bad guys – both got phony licenses, according to the grand jury report. Drayton got his with a fake ID he bought right outside of a PennDOT office, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. All of the fraudulent licenses found in the investigation were processed in Philadelphia driver's license centers, Corbett said.
The biggest problem was PennDOT's customer service goal of processing license applications in 30 minutes. The grand jury report says workers who bypassed PennDOT procedures to verify important documents were under pressure by managers to hit the 30-minute goal. Those workers were either poorly trained or never trained.
PennDOT does have a goal of providing licenses of "30 minutes or less," spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick told the Inquirer, but he says workers do take as much time as they need to validate documents.
Of 350,000 unverified Social Security numbers discovered in 2005, Kirkpatrick said: "We have canceled approximately 9,200 driver records." Kirkpatrick said the rest were verified.
"We worked closely with the attorney general and grand jury," he added. Many of the 13 recommendations listed by the grand jury have been implemented.