Off the Road: Committee Probes Driving Tests

"Why was this company allowed to stay in business after a large number of complaints?"

That's what Rep. Tony Guerrera, the co-chairman of the legislature's Transportation Committee, wants to know.  

His question came Monday after a whistle-blower said the state Department of Motor Vehicles tried to minimize the violations accumulated by Academy Of Driving, based in Watertown.

Last October, the owners of the school, Jack and Sharon Sousa, were arrested on more than a hundred counts of criminal conspiracy to commit second degree fraud.   The Department of Motor Vehicles also brought nearly five-hundred administrative charges against the school.

But whistle-blower James Ricci, a former DMV employee, said his former agency only took action when the state Attorney General's office stepped in. 

The major charges against the Sousa's include improperly signing drivers licenses, hiring poorly trained instructors, and not making sure new drivers, especially teenagers, were getting the proper education.

DMV Commissioner Robert Ward said many of these complaints may have been ignored by previous commissioners and managers. 

But he said he was the one who brought the charges and made sure the Sousas no longer had the state contract. 

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