NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two school bus drivers in Queens have been arrested as part of a statewide crackdown on bus drivers following the horrific crash in the Bronx two weeks ago that left 15 people dead.
Authorities said both drivers had suspended licenses but were able to obtain new ones from the Department of Motor Vehicles by using bogus Social Security numbers, fake names, and different birth dates.
“In each case, the new motor vehicle licenses were intended to cover licenses that were suspended as long ago as 15 years ago,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told CBS 2’s John Slattery. “One of the drivers drove special needs kids.”
1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria with details of the arrests
Mel Marion, who works for the Little Richie Bus Service, was arrested Thursday morning shortly after starting his bus route.
Marion had just picked up a special needs child and was pulled over by two detectives from the Queens District Attorney’s Office before he went to pick up the second child on his route, officials said.
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond spoke with DA Brown
“These are two guys who have two separate sets of licenses,” Brown said.
The suspects were caught by the Division of Motor Vehicles that is using new facial recognition technology.
George Gonsalves, who drove for a commercial bus company, was arrested at his home. His license was yanked in 1996 for failing to pay a fine.
“Obviously this is the tip of the iceberg of individuals who are out driving with licenses they should not have,” said Brown.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered a crackdown on commercial bus drivers in the wake of the March 12 accident in which 15 people were killed on Interstate 95 as their World Wide Tours bus was returning to Chinatown from Mohegan Sun casino.
During a sting operation a week after the deadly crash, New York City police reported that in one night 54 criminal summonses were issued in Manhattan, with eight buses towed away because of safety violations. Other buses ordered out of service were driven away by qualified drivers.
According to DMV records, Ophadell Williams, 40, the Brooklyn driver in the fatal crash, previously had his license suspended for allegedly using aliases to apply for a commercial driver’s license. He also had a criminal record for manslaughter and grand larceny.