Six face criminal charges in illegal school bus operation

Posted on January 31, 2008

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Last week, agents from the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section filed criminal charges against six New York residents who are accused of conspiring to use the address of one defendant's Monroe County, Pa., home to falsely obtain driver licenses, vehicle registration and insurance coverage for 14 vehicles, including vans linked to an illegal school bus operation in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said defendants Benito Berrios Sr.; his long-time companion, Maria Hernandez; the couple’s two adult children, Benito Berrios Jr. and Deana Berrios; and two of Barrios Sr.’s daughters-in-law, Melissa Berrios and Donna Berrios, allegedly used the vans licensed and insured in Pennsylvania to regularly transport students in Brooklyn, despite stating on title, registration and insurance documents that the vehicles would be used exclusively for non-commercial purposes in Monroe County.

The defendants were taken into custody on Jan. 23 and were arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Anthony Fluegel. They were charged with one count of criminal conspiracy, insurance fraud for fraudulent vehicle registration, theft by deception and tampering with public records — all third-degree felonies punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

They were also charged with one count of false application for a certificate of title or registration — a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine — as well as one count of insurance fraud (for fraudulent insurance application) and one count of unsworn falsifications to authorities, both third-degree misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

The defendants were released on $25,000 unsecured bail, and preliminary hearings were scheduled for Feb. 1.

To view a video report on the bus operation, click here.


Related Topics: legal issues

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