Public Notices and Press Releases

School Bus Company and Owner Plead Guilty to Endangering NJ Children

Essex County-based F&A Transportation and its owner admit to employing unqualified drivers and operating unsafe buses.

In a significant development, an Essex County school bus company, F&A Transportation, Inc., and its co-owner, Ahmed Mahgoub, have pleaded guilty to charges related to employing unqualified drivers and operating unsafe vehicles for transporting children. The guilty pleas were entered during a hearing on March 6, 2024, before Judge Mark Ali of the Essex County Criminal Division.

The case, prosecuted by Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin's Office and the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA), highlights a disturbing disregard for the safety of school children. Investigations revealed that F&A Transportation, based in East Orange, NJ, hired drivers without the necessary qualifications, failed to conduct requisite drug tests and background checks, and operated buses that were not up to safety standards. Shockingly, incidents include one where a driver, under the influence, crashed a bus carrying children.

65-year-old Mahgoub and F&A Transportation pled guilty to second-degree false representation for a government contract. Faiza Ibrahim, another co-owner, is slated to enter a pretrial intervention program on a related charge. The state intends to recommend a five-year prison sentence for Mahgoub at the sentencing scheduled for June 28, 2024. Meanwhile, Ibrahim's pretrial intervention will last three years under probation supervision.

Furthermore, the plea agreement mandates that the defendants pay $575,000 in penalties for corruption profiteering and imposes a ten-year ban on doing business with the State of New Jersey or its subdivisions.

Attorney General Platkin emphasized the importance of holding contractors accountable, especially those tasked with the safety of children. Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of OPIA, reiterated the necessity of adhering to standards that ensure the safety and qualification of school bus drivers.

The charges stem from an indictment in August 2021 following an investigation by OPIA and the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau. This investigation uncovered a pattern of illegal hiring practices and fraudulent safety records at F&A Transportation. The company, securing contracts worth approximately $3.5 million from 2016 through 2020 with several school districts, consistently failed to meet safety and legal standards, with their buses failing almost all inspections by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission in 2019.

This case underscores the critical need for strict compliance with safety regulations to protect school children and the commitment of New Jersey authorities to enforce these standards.

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