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CHP officer charged in San Diego DMV scandal

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CHP officer charged in San Diego DMV scandal

The drivers license suspension is one of the toughest sanctions of a San Diego DUI.

It does not suprise me that people go to great lengths to work around it.  Why?

Because people need to go to work and maintain their career.  DUIs should have penatlies but a suspension of the drivers license with no chance of restriction for a month is tough.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

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A California Highway Patrol officer is the second person to be charged in connection with a DMV bribery scandal.

Carlos Ravelo is accused of illegally transferring a temporary driver’s license to a driver, once in September 2013 and again in January 2014, according to an indictment unsealed in San Diego federal court last month.

Ravelo is a 13-year veteran officer and works at the CHP’s El Cajon station. He has been on administrative leave for at least the past two months, said Jim Abele, a CHP division chief.

“We take (these investigations) very seriously and that’s why he’s on administrative leave,” Abele said Thursday. “No one is above the law and everyone gets investigated the same and that’s the expectation.”

Abele declined to discuss the particulars of the investigation or Ravelo’s employment record.

The indictment offers very little detail about the allegations, and prosecutors would not elaborate, but court records show the case is related to the prosecution of Alva Benavidez. The former state Department of Motor Vehicles official recently admitted conspiring to accept bribes from six attorneys and their representatives in exchange for letting their clients keep their driving privileges.

Benavidez worked as a driving safety officer, presiding over hearings to determine whether motorists charged with driving under the influence should have their licenses suspended.

Driver safety officers can also issue temporary driver’s licenses while a suspension is being appealed.

In Benavidez’s plea agreement, she admitted accepting bribes worth more than $5,000 – meals, designer purses and sunglasses – in exchange for entering favorable results for clients. That included setting some suspensions aside and providing unauthorized temporary licenses, the plea agreement states. She admitted the crimes took place from 2005 up until last year.

Ravelo’s lawyer, James Pokorny, said Ravelo advanced fees to a person he believed was an attorney who represented a friend’s daughter.

“This person had contact with Alva Benavidez,” Pokorny said ” … Mr. Ravelo was not involved in any way with Ms. Benavidez.” He added that Ravelo is “highly respected by the CHP.”

The indictment does not name the driver he is accused of helping out.

Ravelo pleaded not guilty to two charges of unlawful transfer of a document on June 8 and was allowed to remain free on $25,000 bail.

He told authorities that he used medical marijuana for the first time a few weeks earlier but acknowledged he would not use the drug as a condition of bond, according to a document filed earlier this week. He is also not permitted to have a firearm.

Benavidez, the DMV official, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to accept bribes and was sentenced last month to three months in prison followed by six months of home confinement.

There is no indication anyone else has been charged in the case, including the unnamed attorneys mentioned in her plea agreement. Federal prosecutors said that the case remains open.

The scandal is the latest to hit the local DMV.

Numerous DMV employees in the El Cajon branch and one in the Rancho San Diego office have been sentenced over the past year for their roles in an unrelated bribery scheme that allowed drivers to obtain licenses without taking the driving test. Many of the drivers came from an El Cajon driving school that catered to immigrants who spoke poor English

The full article can be found here.

If you are charged with a San Diego DUI or other Criminal offense, you need to call our firm immediately. We are available to take action on your case today. Please email or call us at 858-751-4384 or email me at [email protected] to schedule a free consultation. The key is to be proactive.

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