Fleet owner faces 5 years in prison for lying to FMCSA

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, July 1, 2024:

Former trucking company owner convicted for lying to FMCSA

A Rochester, New York-based trucking company owner was recently convicted by a federal jury for making false statements to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and conspiring to do the same in relation to a chameleon carrier scheme. The charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to a press release from the IRS, Tony Kirik, a.k.a. Anatoliy Kirik, operated a multiple million-dollar trucking business called Dallas Logistics. When applying to FMCSA for operating authority, Kirik was found to have submitted false documents regarding the safety rating of his trucking business. Further, when undergoing compliance reviews and safety audits by the FMSCA, Kirik provided false statements and information regarding the many safety violations incurred by his business.

To trick FMSCA regarding the safety of this trucking business, Kirik started new companies using various family members’ names and an employee’s name to make it appear that these new companies were independent and not affiliated with the prior business that incurred the negative safety ratings, when in fact, the new company was merely an extension of the prior company.

[Related: Fleet owner charged in chameleon carrier scheme]

The original complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Western New York by the U.S. government against Kirik, Dallas Logistics purported to be based in and operate out of Dallas, Texas, controlled by an individual identified as “J.Z.” and unaffiliated with any motor carrier. During a compliance review, however, “it became apparent Dallas Logistics was not based out of Dallas, Texas, but instead, was located in, and operated from, a location in Rochester, New York.”

Further investigation found that Dallas Logistics was an affiliate and reincarnation of Orange Transportation Services, another carrier owned by Kirik with a negative safety rating.

“Had the affiliation between Orange Transportation Services and Dallas Logistics been disclosed, Dallas Logistics’ rating would have been negatively impacted,” the complaint said. “Specifically, Dallas Logistics’ safety rating would have a Conditional safety rating at best.”

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers

At trial, it was shown that Kirik’s actions jeopardized the safety of the nation’s highways and roadways from unsafe tractor-trailers, the IRS press release stated.

The verdict is the result of an investigation by the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS CI), under the direction of Thomas Fattorusso, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office; and Special Agents of the Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Scharf, Northeast Region.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 28, 2024, before U.S. District Judge Charles J. Siragusa, who presided over the trial.

Estes revamping million-mile recognition program

During its Driver Safety Awareness Month in July, Estes Express (CCJ Top 250, No. 10) will reward and celebrate Estes’ most loyal and safest drivers with its updated Estes Million Mile Program. The new program is data-driven and boasts greater accuracy and real-time mileage tracking among other updates, the company said.

In July, Estes leaders will travel to terminals throughout the country to recognize nearly 2,500 drivers who have reached the one-, two- and three-million-mile mark with Estes. Another 1,500 will be recognized for hitting the 500,000 milestone after each million-mile mark. Drivers will receive accolades, recognition and the coveted Estes-branded jacket. 

“Every mile matters to a driver, and we want Estes drivers to know that we see them, we appreciate their commitment to safety, and we have great respect for the skill they provide,” said Curtis Carr, VP of Safety/Risk Management at Estes. “Having real-time access to the miles they’ve clocked will be a game changer for the program and will motivate our drivers to continue to drive safely.” 

Since 2000, the Estes Million Mile Program has been based on longevity with the company. The new program relies on data and technology to track the distance each driver puts on the road. According to Estes, reaching one million miles can take an average of eight to 10 years, depending on the role of the driver. 

“We want the best of the best when it comes to drivers, and we want our drivers and prospective drivers to know that Estes values their contributions,” said Greg Richardson, VP of Human Resources at Estes. “This summer, we’re honoring drivers that have been driving safely with us for decades. Their commitment speaks volumes for the company, and we’re thrilled to show our appreciation to these individuals.” 

Drivewyze adds free, real-time traffic alerts in Texas

Fleets utilizing the Drivewyze platform and operate in Texas can now take advantage of a new Smart Roadways service with the Texas Department of Transportation to improve highway safety using Drivewyze’s connected truck network and INRIX real-time traffic data.

Through Drivewyze Smart Roadways, 285 miles of I-45 between Dallas and Galveston are currently being monitored, providing truck drivers with in-cab alerts on sudden and unexpected slowdowns of traffic and other hazards. By the end of July, over 3,000 interstate miles in Texas will be monitored.

Texas joins nine other states that have partnered with Drivewyze and INRIX in rolling out traffic slowdown alerts as part of their connected truck safety programs.

The in-cab alerts, using visual messages such as “sudden slowdown ahead” along with an audible chime, are configured to allow ample time for trucks to slow down or stop, as necessary.

In 2022, there were nearly 4,500 motor vehicle traffic fatalities and nearly 19,000 serious injuries in Texas, which equates to a traffic death every 1 hour and 57 minutes, INRIX said. The latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report (2021) showed Texas had the most fatalities involving commercial trucks of any state, with 806.

“We must explore innovative strategies to mitigate crashes within our state,” said Darran Anderson, TxDOT’s Director of Strategy and Innovation. “The integration of Drivewyze Smart Roadways with INRIX alerts has the potential to significantly enhance safety for truckers, aiding them in avoiding collisions. Given that large trucks traveling at highway speeds necessitate twice the stopping distance compared to passenger vehicles, it is prudent to provide targeted alerts tailored to truck drivers. These alerts empower them to anticipate road hazards that may not always be visible ahead. Our collaboration with Drivewyze is an exciting step toward making these alerts accessible to truckers across our state.”

Traffic slowdown alerts are offered to the entire trucking industry at no cost. Any commercial truck driver or fleet can access the alerts free of charge through a recently introduced service called Drivewyze Free.

This allows fleets and drivers – using telematics devices, smartphones, or tablets – to receive in-cab safety alerts and advisories in advance of potentially risky areas on the roadway.

Drivewyze Free includes access to agency sponsored real-time traffic slowdown alerts and other alerts and advisories generated in partnership with select state transportation and enforcement agencies. In addition, core message sets include Drivewyze sponsored alerts and advisories for High-Rollover risk areas, Low Bridges, and Mountain alerts (steep grade ahead; chain-up/brake check stations; and runaway ramps).