Owner of Essex County School Bus Company Pleads Guilty to Charges Stemming from Company’s Use of Unqualified Drivers and Unsafe Buses to Transport Children

For Immediate Release: March 8, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
– Thomas J. Eicher, Executive Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Dan Prochilo

TRENTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) announced today that an Essex County-based school bus company and one of its owners pleaded guilty, after hiring unqualified drivers, failing to perform drug tests and background checks, operating unsafe buses, and attempting to conceal their misconduct.

In addition to being unqualified to drive school buses because of licensing requirements, several bus drivers for East Orange-based F&A Transportation, Inc., had disqualifying criminal histories. On at least one occasion, an F&A driver drove a bus carrying children while intoxicated and crashed.

Ahmed Mahgoub, 65, of East Hanover, New Jersey, along with his company, F&A Transportation, entered guilty pleas during a hearing before Judge Mark Ali, the Essex County Criminal Division Presiding Judge, on March 6, 2024.

Mahgoub and the business pleaded guilty to false representation for a government contract (2nd degree). Sentencing is scheduled for June 28, 2024. F&A co-owner Faiza Ibrahim, 50, also of East Hanover, will be entering the pretrial intervention program on that date on a charge of tampering with public records or information (3rd degree).

Under the terms of a plea agreement, the state will recommend at sentencing that Mahgoub serve five years in state prison. Ibrahim has agreed to enter into pretrial intervention for three years, during which she will be supervised by a probation officer.

Additionally, under the plea deal with OPIA, the defendants are expected to pay a combined $575,000 in corruption profiteering penalties, and they have agreed to be barred from doing business with the State of New Jersey or any of its administrative or political subdivisions for a decade.

“My office is committed to ensuring that contractors who parents and school districts entrust with the lives of children take that responsibility seriously, and abide by the rules designed to keep students in their care safe,” said Attorney General Platkin. “We will vigorously prosecute those who cut corners and put children in unnecessary danger to increase their profits.”

“There are requirements in place designed to require school bus drivers to meet certain basic, commonsense standards and to prevent potentially tragic traffic incidents,” said Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of OPIA. “Those who violate the law by using unqualified drivers and commit fraud to circumvent the rules will be held accountable.”

The defendants were indicted in August 2021 on various charges following an investigation by OPIA and the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau. Their criminal conduct related to contracts F&A secured from 2016 through 2020 with public school districts in Essex, Passaic, Morris, and Union counties. Those contracts had an aggregate value of approximately $3.5 million.

The investigation revealed the defendants knowingly hired drivers who did not hold valid commercial driver’s licenses or required license endorsements, as well as drivers who had criminal histories, known substance abuse problems, and suspended licenses. They hired drivers before completion of criminal background checks or, in some instances, without any criminal background check at all.

The investigation further found that the business owners falsified vehicle inspection forms to indicate their buses consistently passed required pre- and post-trip company inspections. Those forms must be maintained for review by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) and are relied upon by school districts as proof of bus safety.

Despite the defendants’ indications that their buses consistently passed company inspections, in February and August 2019, the MVC inspected F&A’s buses — and nearly all of the company’s buses failed on both occasions.

Deputy Attorney General Frank Valdinoto accepted the pleas for OPIA, under the supervision of Corruption Bureau Deputy Chief Jeffrey Manis, OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione, and OPIA Executive Director Eicher.

Defense counsel

For Mahgoub: Sebastian Bio, Esq., of Bio & Laracca, P.C., City of Orange, New Jersey
For Ibrahim: Marvin Hammerman, Esq., of Hammerman Rosen LLP, Fairfield, New Jersey
For F&A: Joseph Scura, Esq., Morristown, New Jersey


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