Illinois Bribe Scandal: Feds Say Secretary Of State Employees Accepted Money To Pass Unqualified Applicants

Two former employees of the Secretary of State's Office that administered road tests have been charged with conspiracy to commit extortion after allegedly accepting about $40,000 in bribes to pass applicants who were unqualified to be issued driver's licenses.

A federal indictment was filed Monday against Christopher Wardlaw, 36 and Alanda Jackson, 31, both Chicago residents, following a 2009 investigation dubbed "Operation Paper Mountain" studying a crime ring also involved in selling fake identification documents, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The pair worked at the Secretary of State's Chicago South Facility at 9901 S. Martin Luther King Dr., the Chicago Tribune reports. Officials allege that between 2005 and 2007, Wardlaw and Jackson worked with several other former Secretary of State's office employees who had been previously charged with the same bribery allegations, and with falsifying state identification documents.

Wardlaw and Jackson allegedly offered guaranteed passage to customers in exchange for cash, passing individuals they road tested even if they failed or falsifying paperwork for customers who never took the test, according to the Sun-Times.

Extortion conspiracy charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the Tribune reports. The indictment is seeking forfeiture of $40,000, representing the estimated total the pair earned accepting bribes.