JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The owner of a Jacksonville driving school that’s been accused of taking people’s money without provided driving lessons is now in jail, accused of trying to lure a child online.
It’s a disturbing twist in a News4JAX I-TEAM investigation which started with customers’ complaints about the company taking their money and not providing the services.
Cody Satornino, 31, who identifies himself as the owner and operator, entered the Duval County jail Sunday night on charges of using a computer to seduce or lure a child, child abuse, and transmission of material harmful to minors.
A judge set his bond at $300,000 and appointed a public defender to represent him. The court also ordered he have no access to the internet, no contact with children, or the alleged victim.
News4JAX has put a public records request in for police reports and warrants which will shed more details about the allegations behind the charges.
A heavily redacted police report linked to the business’ address shows a report of sexual battery with a victim over the age of 12 and under the age of 18 with the suspect over the age of 18. Detectives with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office special assault unit investigated and collected a DVD with messages as evidence. Both victim and suspect information were redacted due to the nature of the allegations.
“Please try your call again later.” That’s the message Zaniah Walker got when she called My E-Z Pass Driving and Traffic School in Jacksonville. She tried several numbers to no avail.
She hired the company in June for driving lessons so she could get her first driver’s license. Her first class was July 5. At the time, it was listed as one of the top 3 schools in the area, with a 4.7 Google review. That was before most negative reviews were posted.
She’s 18 years old and studying to become a nurse. She worked two jobs to save enough so she could go to driving school and get a car, paying $595.00 for driving lessons via her debit card.
“I saved up for a while to be able to get my license because I’m going to school and I want to be able to drive myself,” she said.
She was on the right path. She said she took two driving classes with owner and instructor Cody Satornino.
“He was very friendly,” she recalled. “He had a lot to say. We talked about a lot. Music. He told me his story. I thought we were going to be friends.”
However, e-mails show her remaining eight classes in the package deal kept getting rescheduled.
“And then I never heard from him again,” she replied.
She called, texted, emailed, even showed up to an appointment. No response. So she reached out the News4JAX I-TEAM.
Walker is not alone. The I-TEAM found at least 13 other people who said they also paid hundreds of dollars to My E-Z Pass Driving School for lessons never got the courses. They too claim they can’t reach the owners or the instructors, warning people to stay away from doing business with the company.
Allison Satornino, who said she represented the company, responded to some of the Google review comments saying the business was closed unexpectedly due to medical reasons and the economy. However, the note has no mention of a refund.
News4JAX interviewed Satornino back in January of this year about the dangers of distracted driving. This was before allegations of bad business were made.
However, this time around, he didn’t answer our phone calls when we tried to reach him about the growing complaints about his business.
When News4JAX paid a visit to My E-Z Pass Driving School’s Riverside office no one was there. Neighbors said they hadn’t seen much activity in recent months. An obituary shows the original owner, Dennis Satornino, passed away unexpectedly in 2021.
Around the back of the McDuff Avenue office, there was a damaged version of one of the school’s cars, with My E-Z Pass logos and phone numbers on the side. It had been there several days without moving, according to a neighbor.
The I-TEAM discovered Satornino’s arrest while running a background check on him. Before this, he’d only had minor traffic violations. The Clerk of Courts site did not initially have details about allegations besides the charges.
“I was hurt because I was really excited that he told me I was a good driver and that I could take my test,” Walker added.
She said she doesn’t have abuse allegations or anything similar, but she wants her money back and still needs to get her driver’s license.
She hopes others don’t have to learn the hard way like she did.
“I want you guys to be safe out there you know,” she said. “Do not pay upfront like I did and people seem friendly, still be on the lookout. I just want to warn them please do not go to My E-Z Pass anymore.”
Walker paid by debit card and is disputing the charge with her bank.
The Federal Trade Commission notes the most protection comes with a credit card. If you have a fraudulent or erroneous charge, the agency says to report it within 60 days with documentation so the creditor can investigate and potentially refund your money.
If you have had problems with My E-Z Pass Driving and Traffic School, e-mail the News4JAX I-TEAM at firstname.lastname@example.org.