Owner of School Bus Company Charged with Contract Fraud for Covering Up Use of Unqualified Drivers with Criminal Records to Transport Children

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced criminal charges against the owner of a Paterson-based school bus company, its manager, and the company itself for allegedly providing false information to school districts in connection with contracts in order to cover up the fact that the company hired unqualified drivers, failed to conduct mandatory drug testing and criminal background checks for drivers and aides, and operated unsafe buses, all in violation of contract terms and state requirements.

The owner, Shelim Khalique, 51, of Wayne, N.J., the manager, Henry Rhodes, 56, of Paterson, N.J., and the company, A-1 Elegant Tours, Inc., d/b/a Eastern Star Transportation, LLC, (“A-1”), were each charged today by complaint-summons with the following offenses:

  • Conspiracy (2nd Degree),
  • False Representations for a Government Contract (2nd Degree),
  • Theft by Deception (2nd Degree), and
  • Tampering with Public Records or Information (3rd Degree).

Personnel files seized last year during execution of a search warrant revealed that A-1 employed numerous drivers who did not have valid commercial driver’s licenses or required endorsements, had suspended licenses, and/or had criminal records. A-1 also employed bus aides with criminal records. A number of files were missing mandatory records of fingerprinting, background checks, and drug testing.

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