Crime report: Fleet owners plead guilty to defrauding FMCSA, reincarnated carrier charges

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Action in five trucking-related crimes – including Clean Air Act violations, CDL testing schemes, defrauding FMCSA and a reincarnated carrier – has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.

Rhode Island trucking company owner pleads guilty to scheme to defraud FMCSA

Michael Chaves, owner of CAT Transportation Inc., pled guilty Aug. 22 to bank and wire fraud, falsification of federal records during a federal investigation, aggravated identity theft and tax evasion.

An OIG investigation found that Chaves was involved in a scheme that created checks from unsuspecting third-party vendors, had the checks deposited into CAT-owned bank accounts and used false documents during an application process to secure bank loans for commercial vehicles.

OIG also alleges Chaves falsified FMCSA registration documents using the identification number of another individual without his/her knowledge to show no affiliation with another company that was under a federal out-of-service order.

South Carolina man pleads guilty to reincarnated carrier charges

A South Carolina man pleaded guilty Aug. 26 to falsification of records in federal investigations with intent to impede, obstruct and influence FMCSA’s process of investigation and proper administration, and to mail fraud.

An OIG investigation found that Cameron Banks, on four occasions between 2015 and 2018, accessed FMCSA’s database and completed an application for MC authority to avoid out-of-service orders that FMCSA placed on DOT numbers he operated.

On each occasion, Banks failed to disclose a relationship with other FMCSA-licensed entities during the previous three years, OIG adds.

Sixth man pleads guilty after disabling emissions control devices

Brian Mellott, a former inventory and logistics analyst at Pennsylvania hydraulic fracturing company Rockwater Northeast, pleaded guilty Aug. 21 to conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstructing the lawful function of the federal government and to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act.

Mellott is the sixth man to plead guilty in a case in which truck owners allegedly removed the trucks’ stock exhaust systems and replaced them with straight pipes or hollowed out the emissions exhaust components by removing environmental filters.

OIG alleges the men also disabled and manipulated the trucks’ onboard diagnostics with “defeat” devices. They also concealed the purchases in the company’s books and records by mislabeling them as “exhaust systems,” OIG says. They also falsely indicated that the modified trucks had passed emissions inspections.

Former Calif. DMV employee gets prison time for fraudulent CDL scheme

Kari Scattaglia, former management official and licensing registration examiner at the Arleta, California DMV and the Grandada Hills Drivers’ License Processing Center, was sentenced to 32 months in prison, two years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment fee.

OIG found that between 2014 and 2017, Scattaglia was responsible for processing CDL applications and would take money to alter applicants’ records to show they had passed written exams when they had not passed or taken them.

The investigation found that Scattaglia caused at least 68 fraudulent CDLs, including permits, to be issued.

Two Calif. men sentenced in separate CDL scheme

Donald Freeman and Arturo Arroyo Gomez received prison sentences for their participation in a scheme to alter CDL test scores. Freeman was sentenced to 37 months in prison, while Arroyo Gomez was sentenced to one year. Each also received two years of supervised release and were ordered to pay a $100 special assessment.

OIG’s investigation found that Freeman was a California DMV employee in Tracy who processed CDL applications. In exchange for money from Arroyo Gomez, Freeman allegedly changed DMV records to show CDL applicants had passed the required written tests when they had not.

Arroyo Gomez was a broker in the scheme, telling students at truck driving schools he could help them get their CDLs for money.

OIG did not disclose the number of CDLs and permits issued as a result of the scheme.