A Nashville driver's license examiner was charged Wednesday with accepting bribes from applicants who either failed their driver's license exam or did not take the written tests required.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Nashville alleges that Larry Murphy, 54, accepted thousands of dollars from applicants while working as a supervisor at the licensing facility on Hart Lane off Ellington Parkway.
The complaint alleges that between January 2012 and April 17, 2012, Murphy improperly provided several drivers' licenses to four undercover operatives in exchange for payment, including issuance of commercial driver's licenses, which are required to legally operate large vehicles such as tractor trailers.
“It's very troubling to us,” Commissioner of Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Bill Gibbons said.
U.S. Attorney for Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin added, “[He was] essentially selling photo IDs both for driver's licenses and commercial driver's licenses.”
In one instance, the complaint alleges that Murphy fabricated a social security number when the undercover operative told him that he did not have one.
“That simply points out the danger involved in this. It's serious in and of itself because it is taking bribes, but it's also serious because of the homeland security aspects of it,” Gibbons said.
Murphy also manufactured a false medical certification for the commercial license application, which is required to demonstrate that an applicant is physically capable of operating a large vehicle.
Authorities said Murphy began working with the Department of Safety in 2003 and that he does not have a criminal past.
“In this case, I don't think there was anything in Mr. Murphy's background that would have tipped us off,” Gibbons said.
Investigators would not release what tipped them off to Murphy's actions or how many people obtained licenses illegally.
He remains on paid discretionary leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
If convicted, Murphy faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.