Trucking company pleads guilty in backhaul fraud scheme

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A New Jersey trucking company pleaded guilty Thursday, Dec. 8 to three counts of mail fraud after defrauding Anheuser-Busch out of backhaul revenue the brewing company should have received under transportation contracts between the two companies, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie told the Bridgeton News.

Interactive Logistics Inc. of Vineland and Cherry Hill, doing business as NFI Interactive Inc., defrauded the company of more than $226,400; NFI senior executives and managers formulated and executed the scheme, the company’s attorney, William J. Hughes Jr., admitted.

The scheme involved the underreporting of revenue that Anheuser-Busch should have received from NFI for hauling goods for third parties, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl H. Buch. The defrauding lasted from December 2001 to May 2004, the News reported. On each count of mail fraud, NFI faces a maximum penalty of five years of probation and a $500,000 fine along with an order of restitution. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 13.

Anheuser-Busch, which has a brewing plant in Newark, entered into a series of contracts with NFI for the transport of its beer via tractor trailer from Newark to various locations, according to the News. Part of the agreements required NFI to use trailers dedicated to hauling Anheuser-Busch beer for transporting third-parties’ products on return trips after unloading the beer. The backhaul clauses of the contracts required NFI to pay Anheuser-Busch up to 80 percent of revenues derived from the shipping of third-parties’ goods. The contracts also set a guaranteed minimum annual revenue that the brewing company would receive from NFI’s backhauling.

Hughes admitted that beginning around December 2001, certain NFI senior executives directed managers of the Anheuser-Busch account to implement a scheme to withhold backhauling generated by NFI above the minimum guarantee. One way this was carried out was the creation of a separate method of accounting and generating and transmitting false invoices to Anheuser-Busch, according to the News.