DOT busts: CDL testing scheme, vehicle shipping fraud & hazmat violations

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Action in three trucking-related crimes – including a CDL testing scheme, vehicle shipping fraud and hazmat violations – has recently been reported by the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.

Florida man sentenced for role in CDL testing scheme

Taras Chabanovych was sentenced Oct. 26 to 60 days of time served, two years of supervised release, a $226,620 criminal forfeiture and a $100 special court assessment after pleading guilty last year to conspiracy to cause the production of fraudulent CDLs.

According to OIG, between April 2014 and December 2016, Chabanovych fraudulently undermined CDL testing procedures at the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, allowing genuine Florida CDLs to be issued to New York-based applicants. These applicants then exchanged them for CDLs in their home state, OIG says.

Chabanovych allegedly charged as much as $2,600 per applicant to help them obtain documentation establishing bogus Florida residence to take the exam. He also provided audio and video devices so he could give them the answers to the tests.

New York auto broker ordered to pay restitution

Gregory Sclafani was ordered Oct. 31 to pay $54,920.40 in restitution to victims of his vehicle shipment fraud scheme.

OIG says he fraudulently induced customers into using him as a broker for long-distance vehicle hauling but failed to deliver the services. Once he possessed customers’ bank account information, he would make unauthorized withdrawals and concealed the illicit transactions by changing the names of brokerage companies and using aliases when contacting customers.

Sclafani was previously sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $100 special assessment fee.

Montana trucking company, owner sentenced for hazmat violations

Donald E. Wood Jr., and his trucking company, Woody’s Trucking, were sentenced Nov. 9 after being convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice and hazardous materials shipping paper and placarding violations.

Wood was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and three years of supervised release. Woody’s Trucking was sentenced to four years of probation. The judge also ordered restitution of $644,689.70 and a forfeiture totaling $1,289,370.40 in monetary penalties owed by the defendants, OIG says.

The case stemmed from a 2012 incident in which a driver for Woody’s transported drip gas from a facility in Watford City, North Dakota, to Custom Carbon Processing, a slop oil processing/recycling company near Wibaux, North Dakota. The bill of lading said the product was slop oil and water, a nonhazardous substance. However, while the driver was pumping the product, a fire ignited and the tanks of the truck burned for eight days until the fire department determined they contained drip gas and not slop oil and water.

Drip gas is a hazardous material, and the truck was not placarded to indicate it held a flammable liquid. Three Custom Carbon Processing employees were seriously injured in the explosion.

After the explosion, Wood reportedly directed the driver to place a falsified bill of lading in the burned-out truck to cover up the fact that the company was hauling drip gas without placards. Additionally, the company did not have insurance coverage for hauling drip gas, OIG says.

Matt Cole is the news editor for Commercial Carrier Journal and Overdrive, partner publications of Hard Working Trucks.