The owners of Connecticut's largest driving school appeared in Waterbury Superior Court Friday morning.
Joaquim "Jack" Sousa and his wife, Sharon, own Academy of Driving and face hundreds of charges of forgery and fraud. Police said they forged documents and doctored records to give their students learners permits and drivers licenses.
"I really can't give you much detail about the investigation right now. I know we will vigorously defend this case," said Martin Minnella, an attorney for Sharon Sousa. He said the case is continued to December 12.
An affidavit gave more information about the case. In it, an employee said Jack Sousa told her to modify computer files for an audit back in 2007. She said she and other employees added information for missing vision tests and modified driver training hours.
The employee, Jennifer Angelicola, was also arrested. In the affidavit, Angelicola said she helped the couple doctor mail to provide false addresses for more than a hundred students. It was part of the "address verification" process for the DMV. Angelicola added she taught classes and performed tests for the driving school, even though she wasn't a certified instructor.
That made Roseline Gilland of Waterbury worried about the quality of education at the Academy of Driving. "They're getting their licenses, is it done properly? Is it done the right way? That's for their future. Who wants to go on the road and know there's other people driving who didn't get it the way they should have?" she asked.
The affidavit alleged the couple also pocketed money from the driving school. Angelicola said whenever a student paid in cash, the money went into a pocket or purse and not into the bank.