Fleet owner's elaborate scheme helped drivers cheat on CDL tests: Feds

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A Chicago-area fleet owner used earpieces and a wire to help CDL applicants cheat on the written portion of their exams, according to a criminal complaint in a federal court, as well as one of his old employees.

Mykola Datkun, 33, of Port Barrington, Illinois, owns Maximum Services Inc. and charged CDL applicants $500 a pop for his service, which would see them land a Commercial Learner's Permit the same day, according to a complaint in the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois. 

The charge, filed last week, claims that between 2019 and 2022 Datkun helped an unknown number of individuals cheat with earpieces and cell phones on the written portion of the CDL exam, so they could receive CLPs from the Illinois Secretary of State.

Datkun "directed individuals seeking to cheat on the CDL examination to his company's location in Island Lake, Illinois," according to the complaint, where Datkun "and co-conspirators known and unknown agreed to and did provide those individuals with an earpiece, which was synched to the individual's phone, and a microphone receiver, which was connected to the individual's phone through a wire that placed the microphone receiver near the individual's shirt collar."

During the test, the applicants had questions played to them on headphones, which the microphone at the shirt collar would pick up, and then Datkun or an associate would feed the applicant answers, according to the complaint. 

Overdrive contacted a former employee of Datkun, who said they helped Datkun give out the device at the Island Lake location to applicants who were from Ukraine, but that their limited English prohibited them from fully comprehending the scope of the operation. The employee said they cooperated with police. 

Datkun collected "at least $500 from each individual they helped cheat," according to the complaint. 

The complaint said Datkun violated Title 18 of U.S. Code, section 1028(f), and if found guilty he'd face "not more than 15 years" imprisonment, as well as fines. 

The Chicago Tribune reminded its readers that this wouldn't be the first time Illinois had seen corruption compromise the CDL process. 

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From the Tribune:

More than 25 years ago, two loyal Republican patronage workers blew the whistle on a long-running scheme where unqualified applicants were given passing grades on driving tests and received truck-driving licenses at the Illinois Secretary of State facility in southwest suburban McCook.

That led to Operation Safe Road, the sprawling federal investigation initially focused on bribes in exchange for commercial driver’s licenses for unqualified truck drivers when then-Gov. George Ryan was the secretary of state.

A total of nine fatalities were eventually linked to drivers with tainted licenses, including six children of a Chicago minister and his wife who died in a horrific crash on a Wisconsin highway in 1994.

The investigation subsequently expanded to include political corruption and led to the indictment and subsequent convictions of Ryan and several top aides and associates.

Ryan, who left the governor’s office in 2003 before being charged, was sentenced in 2006 to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Datkun's case follows the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts indicting state troopers for allegedly accepting bribes to let CDL applicants pass their exams using a codeword. Also in 2024, an Ohio CDL examiner was sentenced for submitting false CDL test results

In 2022, a California CDL fraud scheme resulted in a series of DMV fraud cases and hundreds of fraudulently obtained commercial driver’s licenses, as well as 20 individuals sentenced.

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