The Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General recently announced court activity in three trucking-related crime investigations. Here’s a summary of what happened with each:
Office manager sentenced for HHG moving fraud
Moaz Kedesh, the former foreman and office manager for ASAP Relocations in San Jose, Calif., was sentenced to 5 years probation and ordered to pay $160,000 in restitution for his involvement in a household goods moving fraud scheme.
In March 2013, Kadesh and seven others were charged with conspiracy to commit grand theft, extortion, money laundering, tax fraud and insurance fraud. The charges were related to a scheme to defraud customers who hired ASAP to move their household goods.
According to the DOT OIG, Kadesh admitted that he falsely certified insurance reports and under-reported ASAP’s insurance premiums and payroll taxes.
Two others with ASAP have pleaded guilty and were sentenced. The five remaining defendants are currently fugitives and are believed to have fled to Israel.
Florida school owner, employee plead guilty in fraudulent CDL testing scheme
Ellariy Medvednik, owner of Larex Incorporated, and Natalia Dontsova, a Larex employee, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy after being charged earlier this year with conspiracy to unlawfully produce Florida driver licenses and commercial drivers’ licenses.
Over the past two years, nearly 400 people used the same address on their CDLs, which happened to be the address registered to Larex. The DOT conducted the investigation based on information from the Florida Highway Patrol and Orange County Florida Tax Collector’s Office that a large number of people applying for CDLs were using the same residential address in Seminole County.
The indictment alleged Larex marketed itself to Russian language speakers and charged students approximately $1,800 to $5,000 to obtain a Florida CDL.
According to the DOT, Medvednik, along with others, helped students cheat on the CDL written exam by utilizing covert communications to supply answers to the students while they were taking the tests. They also knowingly provided false certifications and other documents to students to satisfy Florida CDL residency requirements.
Additionally, Larex arranged for students to complete the basic control skills and road test utilizing the same 3rd party CDL testing contractor. The conspirators caused at least 400 students to obtain fraudulent Florida CDLs.
DOT OIG fugitive arrested in Israel, extradited back to U.S. related to fuel tax evasion scheme
Yousef Abuteir was apprehended after six years on the run in September in Tel Aviv, Israel, and was extradited back to the United States. He was transported from Israel to Texas, where he will await sentencing and federal convictions related to a motor fuel tax evasion scheme.
In June 2007, Abuteir was charged by the state of Texas with evading motor fuel taxes and engaging in a motor fuel tax scheme. In July 2007, the United States charged him with conspiracy and motor fuel tax evasion, and in April 2008, he pleaded guilty to the federal charges. In December of that year, he was found guilty to the state charges as well.
In 2009, after failing to appear for sentencing on the state and federal charges Abuteir fled from the U.S. to Israel, where he was born.
According to court documents, between Oct. 2001 and Nov. 2003, Abuteir and others defrauded the U.S. and the state of Texas out of millions of dollars in motor fuel excise taxes by obtaining tax exempt kerosene under false pretenses. Utilizing the company Mod-Coast International, Abuteir and others purchased in excess of 13 million gallons of kerosene from a refinery in Louisiana, according to the DOT.
He and his co-conspirators falsely stated that the kerosene was purchased for export to Mexico and was not for sale within the U.S., making it exempt from motor fuel excise taxes. However, Abuteir and the others did not export the kerosene as promised.
The DOT states that, under Abuteir’s instruction, drivers delivered the untaxed fuel to retail gas stations throughout the Houston area, where it was then sold as taxable motor fuel. Abuteir and his co-conspirators then pocketed millions of dollars in motor fuel excise taxes owed to the U.S. and the state of Texas.