The owner of an Alabama-based truck driving school has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud after authorities allege he bribed a commercial driver’s license (CDL) examiner to give his students “favorable treatment” during testing.
James F. Welburn, 72, of Columbus, Alabama, owner of the American Truck Driving Academy (ATDA) in Lee County, Alabama, was arrested on July 25.
According to court documents, Welburn, who offered a three-week CDL course, would send his students across state lines into Muscogee County, Georgia, where he allegedly bribed a third-party examiner $25 per student to show ATDA students preferential treatment during testing.
In exchange for bribes, the examiner, known as “Michael J.” in the indictment, allegedly agreed to test students who had not possessed their learner’s permit for 14 days, as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Court documents also claim the examiner would not test Welburn’s students on basic trucking maneuvers if they were unable to successfully perform them, resulting in some students obtaining their CDLs “despite not being qualified.”
The alleged scheme continued for more than three years, starting in February 2015 until April 2018.
If convicted, Welburn faces prison time, monetary penalties and restitution.
On July 29, an employee at ATDA told FreightWaves the trucking school is open for business and is currently accepting new students.