BOSTON – [DOJ MEDIA STATEMENT] – Two current and two former Massachusetts State Police (MSP) troopers are among six charged in a 74-count indictment in connection with an alleged conspiracy to falsify records and give passing scores to certain Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) applicants, including individuals who had failed or did not take the CDL skills test, in exchange for bribes.
The following individuals have been indicted on three counts of conspiracy to falsify records; three counts of conspiracy to commit extortion; three counts of extortion; six counts of honest services mail fraud; 31 counts of falsification of records; 27 counts of false statements; and one count of perjury:
Gary Cederquist, 58, of Stoughton;
Calvin Butner, 63, of Halifax;
Perry Mendes, 63, of Wareham;
Joel Rogers, 54, of Bridgewater;
Scott Camara, 42, of Rehoboth;
and Eric Mathison, 47, of Boston.
Butner and Mendes were arrested yesterday in Southern and Middle District of Florida, respectively. They will appear in federal court in Boston at a later date. The remaining defendants were arrested this morning and will appear in federal court in Boston at 2 p.m. this afternoon.
According to the charging document, MSP Sergeant Cederquist was in charge of MSP’s CDL Unit, of which Trooper Rogers and retired Troopers Butner and Mendes were members.
Members of MSP’s CDL Unit were responsible for administering CDL skills tests. Test requirements for CDLs are established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The CDL skills test is a demanding, in-person test that consists of three segments: Vehicle Inspection, in which an applicant is tested on their knowledge of the vehicle; Basic Control Skills, in which an applicant is tested on their ability to perform certain maneuvers; and the Road Test, in which an applicant is tested on their ability to drive a commercial vehicle on an open roadway.
In Massachusetts, the pass rate was 48% in 2019, 44% in 2020, 41% in 2021 and 41% in 2022. Test scores reported by members of MSP’s CDL Unit are material to whether applicants meet federal requirements for, and therefore whether the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is permitted to issue said applicants, CDLs. Class A CDLs are required to drive combination vehicles (e.g., tractor-trailers). Class B CDLs are required to drive heavy single vehicles (e.g., box trucks, school buses).
According to the charging document, between in on or about May 2019 and January 2023, Cederquist, Butner, Mendes, Rogers and others conspired to give preferential 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 who received special treatment. The indictment alleges that the following texts, some by Cederquist and others by Butner, were sent about some of these applicants:
“Your buddy passed yesterday he owes you that’s an automatic Fail leaving the door open!!!;”
“This guys a mess. Lol. He owes u a prime rib 6inch. 4 compounds and no watch;”
“Your buddy is a mess. He owes you big time. He will be fine though. Anything for you;”
“Golden mess. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣;”
“He’s a mess Class A truck 2psi loss with truck running truck cut our again while timing 🤣🤣🤣🤣;” and
“Total mess this guy I think some time we should just do what we can but not golden.”
Each of these applicants received a passing score on their skills test.
Additionally, it is alleged that Cederquist gave preferential treatment to four Class A CDL applicants who were MSP Troopers by falsely reporting that each trooper took and passed a Class A skills test. In reality, however, it is alleged that the Troopers did not pass the skills test and that they drove a vehicle which did not qualify as a Class A vehicle. It is alleged that Cederquist conspired with his friend Camara, who worked for a truck-driving school in Brockton, to accomplish this offense.
It is further alleged that Cederquist conspired with his friend Mathison, who worked for a spring water company that employed drivers who needed CDLs, to give passing scores to certain applicants affiliated with the water company. The indictment alleges that Cederquist gave passing scores to three such applicants who actually failed, in exchange for bribes of free inventory from the water company, such as cases of bottled Fiji, VOSS and Essentia water, cases of bottled Arizona Iced Tea, and coffee and tea products, all of which Mathison delivered to an office trailer at the CDL test site in Stoughton. The indictment alleges that Cederquist sent Mathison a text describing one of these applicants as “an idiot,” who had “no idea what he’s doing,” and “should have failed about 10 times already.” It is alleged that Cederquist then texted Mathison that Mathison’s boss “owes big time.”
The indictment also alleges that Butner assisted with this conspiracy, including by giving Mathison a key to the Stoughton yard so that Mathison could drop off water company inventory even when the test site was closed. The indictment alleges that Mendes also took part in the conspiracy, including by accepting cases of Fiji and VOSS water from Mathison immediately after administering an incomplete skills test to a new driver for the water company, with Mathison helping to put the cases in Mendes’s cruiser. It is alleged that on one occasion Mathison texted Cederquist that he was heading to the water company’s warehouse in Bridgewater, writing: “Was heading to Bridgewater seeing if you all need anything on return trip. Did you get a new key for the midnight express,” to which Cederquist replied, “Not yet but I need Voss and Italian toast espresso and some decaf for an old timer at the office.”
According to the charging document, in addition to Mathison’s bribes of free inventory from the water company, Cederquist accepted additional bribes in exchange for using his official position as the Sergeant in charge of MSP’s CDL Unit to give preferential treatment to certain CDL applicants including, but also a $750 granite post and mailbox; a new driveway valued at over $10,000; and a snow blower valued at nearly $2,000. The indictment alleges that Cederquist described one such applicant as “horrible,” and “brain dead,” but gave him a passing score anyway in exchange for the snow blower.
All CDL recipients identified as not qualified in the course of this investigation have been reported to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The investigation remains ongoing.
The charges of conspiracy to falsify records each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of conspiracy to commit extortion each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of extortion each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of honest services mail fraud each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of falsification of records each provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of false statements each provide for a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of perjury provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Michael J. Krol, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England; and Christopher A. Scharf, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, Northeast Region made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine J. Wichers and Adam W. Deitch of the Public Corruption & Special Prosecutions Unit are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
TODAY’S RESPONSE FROM Massachusetts State Police:
Colonel Mawn Statement:
“The Massachusetts State Police demand and expect all members to conduct themselves with integrity, honesty, and in accordance with all federal and state laws and Department policies, rules, and regulations. 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. 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.”
– Colonel John Mawn Jr., Interim Superintendent
At the end of 2022, the Massachusetts State Police became aware of a federal investigation into members of the Commercial Driver Licensing Unit for alleged violations of the law and Department policy related to testing procedures. At that time, the Department immediately launched an inquiry into the unit, fully cooperated with federal authorities, and initiated an internal audit of the unit’s operations and procedures.
While the Department was unaware of the exact nature of the federal investigation, a thorough internal investigation determined that four CDL unit members – who are required to obtain commercial licenses – received unsanctioned condensed training in commercial vehicle operation and received CDL licenses outside of the comprehensive testing process in violation of the law and agency.
The Department investigation also discovered that several CDL test applicants received passing scores from two former unit members although no test was proctored. The Department’s Office of Professional Integrity and Accountability’s (OPIA) investigation into those matters remains ongoing.
In February of 2023 the Department transferred Sgt. Gary Cederquist, and other unit members to different assignments. Cederquist was eventually suspended during the investigation and remains so.
In assistance to the federal investigation that resulted in the arrests, the State Police has provided federal prosecutors with records and information related to the unit and its members in response to more than 15 subpoenas or other requests for information received by the Department since the Fall of 2022. Department members have also regularly communicated with the United States Attorney’s Office and the Registry of Motor Vehicles to share information. That cooperation will continue.
The Department’s audit of the CDL Unit’s operations and procedures identified multiple processes requiring modernization, greater internal controls, and increased accountability. The State Police, beginning in early 2023, have implemented numerous reforms to the CDL Unit that have significantly improved efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability.
Action steps taken include:
Required use of body-worn cameras for all CDL exams.Increased frequency of unannounced visits by unit supervisors to examiners at training sites.
Modernized unit record-keeping with required electronic documentation and the use of the Department’s online case management system, allowing for enhanced accountability, accuracy, and supervision.
Added two new sergeants to unit with prior experience, who have instituted operational changes that increased efficiency and supervision.
Created a new position responsible for supervising and coordinating all aspects of CDL Unit training, including scheduling, curriculum, procedures, vehicle acquisition and maintenance, and record keeping.
Developed new training procedures that establish acceptable time frames for training, standards for instructors, and accountability standards for students and instructors.
Developed a new curriculum that establishes learning benchmarks for each day and each phase of training.
Modified existing monthly in-service training and ongoing development of new annual in-service training for CDL Unit examiners.
Added new Troopers to the unit and reassigned staff to high demand training sites, resulting in improved service to the public, significantly reduced scheduling wait times for test takers, and increased oversight over these sites.
The Massachusetts State Police Commercial Driver Licensing (CDL) Unit conducts skills testing for CDL applicants in coordination with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). The unit is also responsible for training and certifying MSP members whose assignments require a CDL license.
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