A Massachusetts State trooper and two alleged co-conspirators have been indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury for allegedly colluding to provide fraudulent vehicle inspection forms in exchange for cash payments, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said today.

The indictments, returned Tuesday, charge ROBERT A. FORREST, Jr. (D.O.B. 7/30/48) of Stoneham, a State trooper relieved from duty since last summer; BERNALDO HERNANDEZ (D.O.B. 5/20/62) of Lynn; and KENNETH LAFAUCI (D.O.B. 4/16/57) of Topsfield with one count each of bribery, making a false statement in an application for a title certificate, conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to make a false statement in an application for a title certificate.

With regard to the bribery charges, Conley said, Forrest is alleged to have accepted a $50 bribe, while Lafauci and Hernandez are alleged to have offered it.

The investigation culminating in this week’s indictments was initiated and led by Massachusetts State Police detectives. The subsequent grand jury probe was directed by members of Conley’s Special Prosecutions Unit, which prosecutes white collar and financial crime.

In the summer of 2009, Forrest was assigned to the Salvage Title Section of the Massachusetts State Police. His duties were to inspect badly damaged vehicles that had undergone extensive repairs, confirm that the vehicles had in fact been repaired, ensure that no stolen parts had been used in the repairs, and issue the paperwork that allows such vehicles to return to the road.

During the same time period, Lafauci was the owner of Brother’s Auto Body in Revere and Hernandez was an associate who worked nearby. Brother’s Auto Body is not a designated salvage inspection location, and both men are alleged to have procured Forrest’s approval for fraudulent inspection paperwork in exchange for cash payments.

Lafauci and Hernandez allegedly paid Forrest to sign and approve the mandatory Salvage Inspection Forms for salvaged vehicles that may or may not have been brought to the garage. Forrest allegedly signed off on the paperwork without performing the inspection. Because the vehicles went uninspected, they could be released to the road with serious – and possibly dangerous – defects.

“From the evidence we’ve seen, Mr. Forrest sold his badge and sold it cheap,” Conley said. “There’s a reason these cars need to be inspected, and that’s to protect the public at large. Not doing so puts unsuspecting drivers and pedestrians at risk. If theis behavior isn’t a violation of the public trust, I don’t know what is.”

The indictments arise out of a sting operation conducted by State Police investigators on June 15, 2009. State Police obtained paperwork for a motor vehicle that did not exist and brought that paperwork with $1000 in cash to Brother’s Auto Body. They presented the cash and paperwork to Hernandez, who allegedly took $500 for himself. Hernandez allegedly left the paperwork and remaining cash for Lafauci, who in turn allegedly took $450 for himself and paid Forrest $50 to sign the Salvage Inspection Form.

The vehicle in question was never brought to Brother’s Auto Body and Forrest could not have inspected it. State Police investigators subsequently recovered a $50 bill from Forrest and observed incoming calls from Lafauci in his cell phone log. He was immediately relieved from duty.

Forrest, Hernandez, and Lafauci are expected to face arraignment in the Magistrate’s Session of Suffolk Superior Court on Feb. 25.