March 6, 2012
New York state has suspended the license of a driving school linked to a bus crash that killed four people in Virginia last year.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the action Monday, saying he promised his state would not tolerate "unsafe buses, dangerous or unqualified drivers or fraud in obtaining licenses."
The Hong Kong-born owners of the N&Y Professional Service Line school in Brooklyn are charged with fraud for what prosecutors say was getting commercial driver's licenses for people without the necessary skills.
Students included a driver who faces manslaughter charges after admitting to authorities that he fell asleep before a low-fare bus from Greensboro, N.C., to New York City crashed in Virginia last June. Four passengers died, and dozens were injured.
The suspension comes after authorities said the school owners fraudulently helped an undercover agent fluent in Mandarin pass a written commercial driver's license permit test.
In January, the agent went to the driving school seeking a license to drive a bus, authorities said. The owners assured him they could help him pass the written test in exchange for $1,800, authorities said.
Last month, school co-owner Ying Wai Phillip Ng drove the undercover agent to the state Department of Motor Vehicles on Staten Island, authorities said. Ng had the agent put on a jacket with a camera hidden in the right sleeve to provide a live feed to a video monitor inside his minivan, they said.
Ng instructed the agent that once inside he should point the camera at the multiple-choice test, authorities said. He also gave the agent a pager and explained it would vibrate twice if the correct answer was A, four times for B and six times for C, they said.
The undercover agent passed the test.
More than 170 people who got their commercial driver's licenses from the school must immediately schedule tests to demonstrate their qualifications or face suspension.
Ng and the school's other owner, Pui Kuen Ng, are married and naturalized U.S. citizens. They are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with the operation of the school.
Ying Wai Phillip Ng's attorney, Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, said after his arraignment last week that he is entitled to a presumption of innocence. There was no reply to a message left with an attorney for Pui Kuen Ng.
The allegations stem from a probe by immigration officials of the state-licensed school, which recruited students through advertising in the city's Chinese-language newspapers.
The governor said that from March 2011 through January 2012 the state conducted more than 6,600 bus inspections. He said that as a result it took 621 buses and 644 drivers off the road pending the correction of license or equipment shortcomings.