Two RMV officials and service station owner plead not guilty in inspection license scheme

Two Registry of Motor Vehicle officials and a service station owner pleaded not guilty to charges of extortion and fraud after allegedly scheming to create a “black market” for motor vehicle safety inspection licenses, US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Boston FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers said today in a statement.

David P. Gaw, 70, of Wakefield, Mark C. LaFrance, 51, of Braintree, and Simon Abou Raad, 50, of Tyngsboro allegedly worked to extort service station owners who wanted a license to conduct motor vehicle safety inspections, prosecutors said.

Abou Raad owned service stations in Tewksbury and Tyngsboro, while LaFrance, a project manager at the RMV, had oversight responsibilities for the entire motor vehicle inspection program within the state, prosecutors said. Gaw was a senior inspector for the RMV, based out of Lawrence, who was responsible for inspecting service stations applying for inspection licenses.

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In Massachusetts, applications to obtain these licenses are granted off a waiting list and cost $100, with the actual inspection equipment costing about $2,500. The RMV inspection network was at capacity so no licenses were being granted.

LaFrance allegedly gave Abou Raad a list of vehicle inspection stations with a low volume of inspections or that were planning to surrender licenses and sell equipment, enabling Abou Raad to buy the license and equipment for roughly $6,000. He then sold the licenses and equipment to other service station owners looking to buy licenses, sometimes with Gaw’s help, for between $50,000 and $75,000, prosecutors said. The transaction was then arranged by Abou Raad to appear as if the service station owners buying and selling the license were merging as a new business entity or changing ownership. The forged documents were then submitted to the RMV.

After the fraudulent transaction, which resulted in vehicle inspection licenses being issued, service station owners paid Abou Raad, who would then split the illegal proceeds with LaFrance, prosecutors allege. Gaw received a kickback as a finder’s fee if Gaw helped Abou Raad find the buyer or conducted a site inspection for the new owner, prosecutors said.

Through the course of the scheme, Abou Raad collected roughly $657,000, prosecutors said.

If convicted for extortion and mail fraud, each could receive 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or twice the monetary gain — whichever is greater.

No further information was immediately available.