Mass. state troopers charged in bribery scheme, accused of taking snow blower and driveway for drivers licenses

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Four current and former Massachusetts State Police troopers were among six people arrested in connection with a bribery conspiracy scheme to guarantee passing scores for commercial driver’s licenses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts announced Tuesday.

Sgt. Gary Cederquist, Trooper Joel Rogers and retired Troopers Calvin Butner and Perry Mendes are charged in a 74 count indictment. All four troopers were members of the Massachusetts State Police commercial driver’s license unit, responsible for administering the skills tests for Commercial Drivers Licenses, or CDLs.

The two civilians in the case were identified as Scott Camara and Eric Mathison, a truck-driving school employee and a water company employee, respectively.

From around May 2019 to January 2023, the troopers and others involved conspired to give special treatment “to at least 17 CDL applicants by agreeing to give passing scores on their skills tests whether or not they actually passed, using the code word ‘golden’ to identify these applicants,” according to the charging document.

In return for passing unqualified applicants, Sgt. Cederquist accepted personal bribes, including a $750 granite post and mailbox, a new driveway valued at $10,000 and a $2,000 snow blower.

The indictment alleges that Sgt. Cederquist conspired with Mathison to pass applicants affiliated with the water company, which needed drivers with CDLs. In exchange, Mathison delivered free inventory, such as cases of bottled Fiji water and Arizona Iced Tea, along with coffee and tea products, to an office trailer at a CDL test site. Trooper Butner allegedly assisted in the scheme. 

Sgt. Cederquist also gave preferential treatment to four Class A CDL applicants who were state troopers by falsely reporting test results. In reality, the troopers allegedly did not pass and drove vehicles supplied by Camara that did not qualify as Class A. 

“The grand jury indictment against these six men includes charges of extortion, honest services mail fraud, conspiracy, false statements and falsifications of records,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy said in a press conference. “In short, as alleged in this indictment, the CDLs were for sale and troopers were bribed with free goods to pass applicants no matter how they performed on the test.”

The alleged conspirators texted each other about how “horrible” and “brain dead” certain applicants they passed were, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts.

“Your buddy is a mess. He owes you big time. He will be fine though. Anything for you,” one text message said. “This guys a mess. Lol. He owes u a prime rib 6inch. 4 compounds and no watch,” another text read.

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The Massachusetts State Police became aware of the federal investigation at the end of 2022 and fully cooperated with authorities while launching its own internal audit.

“The Department condemns the actions of the four current and former CDL Unit members as alleged in the federal indictment and our internal affairs investigation,” Interim Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police Col. John Mawn Jr. said in a statement.

“The alleged misconduct of those defendants is the antithesis of and in stark contrast to the values, character, and integrity exhibited by the overwhelming majority of our Troopers every day in service to the public.”

Cederquist, Rogers, Mathison and Camera made their initial appearance Tuesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Butner and Mendes were expected to make appearances at a later date. A phone number could not be found for any of the six and their lawyers did not respond for a request for comment.

All CDL recipients identified as unqualified during the investigation have been reported to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. The case remains ongoing.

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