Interstate Trucking Academy Decertified

Joelmc59

New Member
I Attended a trucking school \\\"Interstate Trucking Academy\\\" in Melbourne FL and I paid $2500.00 for training to get my CDL class A license. I passed the classed and obtained my license. Then a few weeks ago I received a letter from the Florida Hwy Of Motor Vehicles informing me that the school I attended was de-certified and that my class A license would be down-graded to a class E license. I tried to contact the school but no anwser. I think I should be refunded my $2500.00 that I paid out of my pocket now that my Class A license is not longer valid.

Did anyone else go to this school in Melbourne Florida to get their CDL-class A license and receive the same letter? If so, please contact me at joelandmichele_fla@earthlink.net.

Joel:mad:
 

m_fumich

Member
If your CDL class was anything like mine, your written test's were given by the state. See if the state examiners can retest you on the driving portion. Ask them what you need to do to keep it a class A.

I'd request a refund on the tuition.
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Wow, I have never heard of this happening. I would definitely go after the company for a refund.

Re-taking the driving test is a possible option for you, you might have to retate that and the written test, but not sure.

Something else to think about, many companies won't hire a new driver just because they have a CDL, as they require a school as well. There are some that will hire you though, so just keep that in mind while you go through the process of getting your Class A again and start looking for work.
 

Joelmc59

New Member
Interstate Trucking Academy "De-certified"

Well, actually I decided not to drive a truck right now and I now work as a Logistic Engineer for Lockheed Martin in Cape Canaveral FL, but if I ever wanted to drive again, I can't. Yea the DMV told me that they would test me on the road test for free, but I would have to supply my own rig to do so. Yea, I am sure there are lots of truckers out there that would let me use there truck to take a road test. And yes I am looking into getting a refund from the school if I can ever get ahold of anyone. I have already talked to a law office to see what my options are and looks like small claims court may be the only way to go. Wish I knew the other 700 people that are in the same situation as I am. Well, more to come on this.

Joel / Palm Bay FL
 

sportsou

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Well, with any luck, some of them might stumble across this thread, and you guys might be able to communicate a way to go after this place as a group.

Just an FYI, if you want to go ahead and retain your CDL, just in case you ever need it, there are places that will rent trucks for the pupose of taking these tests. Just wanted to throw that out there.
 

Joelmc59

New Member
Received a call from another guy that attended this school and he found out that the instructors are in jail and that the case is being handled by the state attorneys office in Melbourne FL. I have the number to call to add my name to the suit. If anyone else went to the school, speak up now. Over 700 truckers CDL licenses will be downgraded to a class E license.
 

Bonkers

Active Member
Good to hear that the scumbags are in jail. Sorry to hear what happened to you and so many others. Hopefully most of these guys can get their money back, and hopefully they can get their CDL straightened out fairly quickly.
 

carva

New Member
Where can you go to rent trucks for the test, because my husbands company will not allow them to use their truck.
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Probably best to look in the phone book to find one in your area. I would imagine they are listed.

Might be able to find them online as well.
 

Joelmc59

New Member
REF: ITA

See article in Florida Today: 23 Aug 2007

Driving academy strands truckers

[FONT=Times New Roman, Serif]School's licenses invalid; owner may face charges[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]BY KEYONNA SUMMERS [/FONT]


[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]MELBOURNE - More than 730 operators of tractor-trailers and other large trucks have invalid commercial driver's licenses because police said a Melbourne-based driving school used improper testing procedures.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]The State Attorney's Office is pondering criminal charges, including a racketeering charge, against Joseph Neal Smith, the 51-year-old Merritt Island owner of Interstate Trucking Academy.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]In the meantime, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles stripped Smith of his testing license.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]State driving officials said the situation has put the truck drivers, and motorists in general, in a difficult and potentially risky situation: 733 people from Brevard County and elsewhere who took driving classes and tests since ITA opened in November 2004 will have to be retested by Oct. 4 or risk having their licenses revoked. Those who fail the test will be downgraded to a non-[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]commercial driver's license.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Highway Safety spokeswoman Ann Nucatola said her agency's main focus is to ensure there are safe drivers on the roads.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]"We have to know that they know what they're doing when they're on the road," she said. "And our inspectors decided that ITA was not doing things the way they needed to be done. . . . This is a safety issue, and we take it seriously."[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Commercial driver's licenses are required for drivers of 18-wheelers, trucks that carry hazardous materials, vehicles that carry more than 15 passengers or trucks that weight more than 26,000 pounds. Once testing is conducted at schools such as ITA, the results are entered into a state database, waivers are issued and a license is presented by local licensing agencies.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Smith, released from the Brevard County jail on $25,000 bond, is scheduled to go before Circuit Judge Lisa Davidson on Oct. 12.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Phone numbers for Smith and Interstate Trucking Academy were disconnected.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Smith's attorney, Richard Canina, declined comment because the charges are still pending.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]According to an informant cited in a Florida Highway Patrol arrest warrant application, Smith -- among other things -- granted licenses based on his subjective opinions of whether students were capable of performing certain skills rather than on their actual experience. Some students never gained enough hours to legitimately pass some tests because Smith never held classes on Saturdays, as required, the informant said.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]The informant also alleged that Smith kept a "loser file" -- a stack of records, accumulated at random, of students he disqualified based on bogus accusations to keep up a 20 percent failure rate so the state wouldn't become suspicious and investigate.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]It didn't work.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]FHP carried out a sting operation and arrested Smith on[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]June 27.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]The agency has recommended a litany of charges for Smith, including falsifying records, communications fraud and forgery. FHP also accused Smith of violating the RICO Act, a federal racketeering charge typically reserved for well-established organized criminal organizations involving gangsters and drug lords.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]State driving officials say such cases aren't uncommon.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Since 2000, the highway safety department said it has revoked licenses in six similar cases, Nucatola said.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Two of those -- the 2000 REACT case in Tampa and the 2001 3S Trucking case in Fort Lauderdale -- led to federal charges, she said. The other four resulted in state charges only.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Steve Cole, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Orlando, said he has not heard whether his office plans to take over the case from the county and pursue federal racketeering charges.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Brevard State Attorney's Office officials said an intake officer is reviewing the case and has 175 days from the arrest date to file charges.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Covert evaluation[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]A June 25 arrest affidavit shows the alleged violations were discovered early this year during a routine, albeit covert, evaluation of the trucking company by a state driver's licensing official.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]The official noticed that the ITA test results submitted for license applicants on the days he had conducted his evaluation at the trucking school did not reflect the activities he had observed. He requested an investigation.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Officials at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles' Division of Driver Licenses set up an interview with the informant, a former ITA employee named Edward Rodriguez.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]According to Rodriguez, Smith employed several questionable methods, including using an unapproved testing route and paying students to work at his home or furniture business while giving them credit for classes they never attended.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Rodriguez also told investigators Smith automatically passed students from certain programs, and said he overheard Smith and his wife telling another employee they spent money designated for the business on personal items.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Smith's wife, Kathleen Smith, has not been charged.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Rodriguez, a trainer who had worked at ITA for about a year and a half, said he was fired when he refused to sign an employee contract before his attorney viewed it. He had recently started questioning the company's testing procedures.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]FHP, which used the findings of state investigators to initiate its own surveillance and investigation starting in May, refused to comment on the charges, citing a policy against speaking about pending criminal matters.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Retesting, at a cost[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]On July 6, nine days after Smith's arrest, state driving officials mailed letters notifying every patron at ITA since it became a testing site in 2004 that they would have to retest, and for many that means spending hundreds of dollars.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]While the test is free at the state's six testing sites, including one in Melbourne, test-takers must provide their own trucks, Nucatola said. Independent test sites provide a truck and test, but for a fee.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Lisa Gary, manager of the family-owned Adger Smith Wells Inc., a well drilling company, said her company spent $3,000 to enroll three employees in Smith's class from late February to early March following a traffic stop involving a company truck the operator was not licensed to drive.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]The company has recently acquired a 32,000-pound truck with airbrakes, which requires a commercial license, when it was pulled over by Palm Bay police.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]In the wake of the ITA situation, the company had ruled out retesting at a state site since the truck with airbrakes does not have a passenger-side door, as required, because drilling equipment covers one side of the truck.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]The closest third-party tester is in Vero Beach, and Gary said it was difficult to reach the Indian River County School Board, which coordinates the classes that precede the testing. The next closest testing site is in Orlando.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]"Not only are we going to have to go through the expense of our men taking another day off to do this, but it looks like we're going to have to rent a rig," a frustrated Gary said.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Employee Jim Mutchler, a driller's assistant, said it's frustrating that the tests may not have been done correctly the first time and that they have to retest even if they were.[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]"We're kind of taken aback because we thought we were all good to go," he said. "It took us a long time to go through this, and now we find out it's all for nothing."[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Said driller James O'Neil: "I can't imagine the (hundreds) of people that have gone through this place, and now they're in the same boat as we are."[/FONT]
 

ACCER

Well-Known Member
Well I'm glad they were stopped. I feel bad however for those who paid their money and are now stuck in the middle of this mess. It could be worse for Joel. He could be out the $2500 AND a job.....at least he works in another field and isn't depending on that license for his paycheck.
 

ACCER

Well-Known Member
Carva,
That's handy to know, I have a couple of friends needing to rent trucks for their tests. I just emailed them that number!
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
A little good news, the owner of the school is going to have to face the music.

The owner of a Melbourne, FL, truck driving school faces trial on 13 felony counts after allegedly paying students to work at his home or business while giving them credit for CDL classes they never attended.
According to Florida Today, 51-year-old Joseph Neal Smith’s Interstate Trucking Academy began offering CDL testing in 2004.
State officials ordered more than 700 of his students to retest for their CDLs.
http://www.landlinemag.com/todays_news/Daily/2007/Oct07/100807/100907-06.htm
 

Priscilla

Active Member
So.........you paint my house and I'll give you school credit? Man, what a racket. I cringe to think of all the inexperienced drivers out there because of this kind of activity.
 
There was a similar company situation in JAX, FL There is another school here that will rent you thier truck and give the road test. Not sure what they charge.
 

manning125

Active Member
I've never heard of anything like this happening but a refund would defintely be in order. Hopefully you can retest on the driving portion of your test and keep the class A endorsement. Good luck on both accounts.
 

trucker kid

Member
can I have the number?

Received a call from another guy that attended this school and he found out that the instructors are in jail and that the case is being handled by the state attorneys office in Melbourne FL. I have the number to call to add my name to the suit. If anyone else went to the school, speak up now. Over 700 truckers CDL licenses will be downgraded to a class E license.

I went to that ****ty school back in 2006. they were contracted with CRST and I had to pay 4000$over the course of my contract. then I get a letter just like these other guys saying I will lose my CDL if i dont take the road test again. I told CRST and they didnt let me use the truck to take it. I had to down grade. They were the ones sponsoring the school and they didnt help. I would like to add my name to the suit as well. I couldnt do a damn thing and now that I read this I wanna try again.


ps: if it was like when i was there, I had to stay in that house with the bunk beds and no pillows with like 12 guys. really bad place
 

trucker kid

Member
I would like to add another thing about Interstate trucking academy in Melbourne fl. the instructors were out of there mind. That one guy eddie, grabbing the wheel when he didnt like how you were driving. plus he was selling **** on the side. sux cause i earned my license. i got that stupid hat for being there best driver student. didnt mean a damn thing. if if anyone has info about that lawsuit against them email me the info please. Email_me187@yahoo.com
 

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