Ex-RMV manager agrees to plead guilty to extortion charges
The former manager of a Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles branch has agreed to plead guilty to federal extortion charges for allegedly taking bribes and in exchange for issuing passing scores on learner’s permit tests, federal prosecutors said.
Mia Cox-Johnson, 43, who worked at the Brockton office, is charged with extortion under color of official right and conspiring to commit extortion, authorities said Thursday.
In a separate case, driving school owner Estevao Semedo, 61, has agreed to plead guilty to accusations that he paid a road test examiner at the same branch to report that some applicants had passed road tests when they had not, prosecutors said. He is charged with conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud.
Both will enter their pleas at dates to be determined.
A lawyer for Cox-Johnson when reached by phone Friday declined comment.
Semedo’s attorney, Nate Amendola, said his client is remorseful.
“He’s pleading guilty because it’s in his best interest to do so and he’s taking responsibility for what he did,” Amendola said Friday.
Cox-Johnson took money in exchange for giving passing scores on learner’s permit tests for both passenger vehicle driver’s licenses and commercial driver’s licenses between December 2018 and October 2019, authorities said.
The customers were told to request a paper test rather than on a computer, then Cox-Johnson scored the paper tests, prosecutors said.
In one case, Cox-Johnson allegedly accepted $1,000 in cash from someone, and in exchange gave a passing score to that person’s relative, who had failed the learner’s permit test six times, prosecutors said.
Cox-Johnson took the money “to enrich herself personally,” according to court documents.
Semedo’s scheme that ran between September 2019 and April 2021 led to the RMV mailing licenses to unqualified applicants, prosecutors said.
“The RMV has since taken steps to improve its licensing process and continues to closely monitor and audit transactions,” an agency spokesperson said.
Four RMV employees, including Cox-Johnson, were fired in February 2022 after an investigation found that 2,100 people were wrongly granted licenses. All had to qualify for licenses legitimately.