Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Investigating Former Driving Instructor

By Lee Hermiston, The Gazette

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa - A Mount Pleasant-based driver’s education instructor whose license to teach was suspended earlier this year for ethics violations is now the subject of an investigation headed by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa Department of Education.

Officials are looking into allegations that Frederick Bindner, 64, of Mount Pleasant, owner of the Auto Right Driving School, has continued to provide instruction to students despite his suspension.

“We know he conducted driver’s education training for somewhere between 35 and 40 kids,” Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said. “He doesn’t have a license to do so.”

It’s unknown what kind of punishment Bindner could face.

“It all depends on the evidence that comes forward,” said Mike Athey, deputy director of the Department of Transportation’s Investigations Bureau. “I’m not going to leap to conclusions here.”

Bindner’s suspension stems from two incidents that occurred in June 2011 during a two-week driver’s education course that he taught from June 20 through July 2, according to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. Board documents state that on June 27, 2011, Bindner took three female students — all of whom were teenagers — to the Olive Garden in Coralville for dinner. According to the board, Bindner offered wine to the girls — ages 14, 16 and 17 at the time — and two accepted.

During the second incident, which occurred either on June 27 or June 29, Bindner and the three students stopped at a Wal-Mart, purportedly to practice parking. The board stated that the girls used the restroom at the store, and Binder went to purchase soft drinks.

While inside, the students and Bindner became separated for 15 to 45 minutes. When they were reunited, Bindner allegedly lost his temper, cursed at the girls and told them they would not be getting their certificates for the class and would have to “earn them back,” according to the board.

Following the Wal-Mart incident, one of the girls reported the two incidents to her parents. The girl’s father confronted Bindner and also filed a complaint with the Coralville Police Department.

Bindner was charged with two counts of providing alcohol to minors, to which he later pleaded guilty. In January 2012, he received two 30-day jail sentences, which were suspended.

The board documents indicate Bindner sold his business to his daughter.

According to documents, a complaint was filed with the Board of Educational Examiners in July 2011. The board accused Bindner of suppling alcohol to a student, misuse of public funds and property by failing to use time or funds granted for their intended purpose, unethical practice and conviction of a crime. In response to the investigation, the board suspended Bindner’s teaching license.

Darcy Lane, a lawyer and investigator with the Board of Educational Examiners, said Bindner filed for judicial review following the board’s decision, but dropped that appeal. He agreed to be suspended until August 2015, Lane said.

No charges have been filed directly in relation to the allegations, though Sheriff Pulkrabek said additional charges were likely. Bindner was booked at the Johnson County Jail Tuesday afternoon for interference with acts, however. According to the sheriff’s office, Bindner was detained and questioned by a state agent around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. Police said Bindner refused to give his name to law enforcement and was “being uncooperative.” The criminal complaint states Bindner became aggressive and had to be restrained from leaving.

Interference with official acts is a simple misdemeanor.

A message left for Bindner at Auto Right Driving School was not immediately returned on Wednesday.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@sourcemedia.net

facebook twitter email alerts you tube hooplanow