Small-fleet owner banned from operating by FMCSA after multiple violations

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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021: 

Montana-based fleet owner effectively shut down following numerous safety violations
A Montana-based trucking company owner and carriers he operates have been ordered to immediately cease operations by the U.S. DOT after state and federal investigators found widespread violations of numerous regulations.

Matthew Tabner and his two Belgrade, Montana-based companies – Vallise Automotive Group and Central Logistics – were served the federal shutdown order on Jan. 23. The two carriers had a combined five drivers and four trucks, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Safety Measurement System.

Following an investigation by the Montana Department of Transportation and FMCSA enforcement personnel found the following violations with Vallise Automotive Group:

  • Failure to have a systematic vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance program to prevent unsafe commercial vehicles from operating on public roadways. In November 2020, a truck and trailer operated by one of Tabner’s companies were ordered out-of-service by New York State Police after a roadside inspection revealed deficient brakes on the truck and inoperative brakes on the trailer. Despite the OOS order, the truck and trailer were moved, resulting in two additional citations.
  • Failure to ensure that only qualified drivers with proper CDLs operate on public roadways. Investigators found that on numerous occasions, a 16-year-old Tabner employee, who did not possess a CDL, CLP or medical examiner’s certificate, was allowed to operate a vehicle exceeding 26,001 lbs. – even after the individual received multiple citations by law enforcement officers as far away as Minnesota and New York. 
  • Failure to implement an alcohol and controlled substances testing program required by Federal law for drivers who must hold a CDL.
  • Failure to properly monitor the dispatch of its drivers to ensure compliance with hours of service regulations. Vallise was found to have no programs in place to review its drivers’ records of duty status for falsification, completeness, accuracy or driver violations of HOS regs.

Tabner, Vallise Automotive Group and Central Logistics may be assessed civil penalties of up to $27,813 for each violation of the out-of-service order. The carriers may also be assessed civil penalties of at least $11,125 for providing transportation requiring federal operating authority registration and up to $15,691 for operating a commercial vehicle in interstate commerce without necessary USDOT registration. 

If violations are determined to be willful, criminal penalties may be imposed, including a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for a term of up to one year. FMCSA is also considering civil penalties for the safety violations discovered during the investigation.

Florida HHG company owner pleads guilty to scam conspiracy
Andrey Shuklin, a Florida-based owner of various moving companies, pleaded guilty Jan. 25 to conspiring in a racketeering enterprise to defraud individuals throughout the U.S.

The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General alleges that Shuklin provided, or directed through wire communications, materially false statements to federal regulators, third-party companies and customers to further the scheme. The moving enterprise defrauded more than 1,800 victims for an amount estimated to be between $1.5 million and $3.5 million.