Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, July 1, 2021:
Two more guilty pleas announced, two sentenced in Louisiana staged-accident scheme
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana announced two more guilty pleas and two sentencings in the widespread staged-accident fraud scheme in the New Orleans area that targeted motor carriers and insurance companies.
On June 23, James “Curtis” Williams and Ryan Wheaten entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. According to the plea, on March 27, 2017, Williams conspired with co-defendants Tanya Givens, John Diggs and Lois Russell to stage an accident with a tractor-trailer at the intersection of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road. In total, the victim trucking and insurance companies paid out approximately $272,500 for fraudulent claims made after the staged accident.
Also according to the plea, on May 17, 2017, Wheaten participated in a staged automobile accident in the vicinity of U.S. Highway 90 East and Calliope Street in New Orleans. The victim trucking and insurance companies paid out approximately $10,000.00 for fraudulent claims made following the staged accident.
Williams and Wheaten face a maximum sentence of five years. Upon release from prison, Williams and Wheaten also face a term of supervised release up to three years, and/or a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain to each defendant or twice the gross loss to any person.
Additionally, Anthony Robinson and Audrey Harris were sentenced to four years in prison for participating in a scheme to defraud a trucking company and their insurer by staging an automobile accident with a tractor-trailer on October 13, 2015.
The husband-wife duo worked with co-conspirators to stage an accident with a tractor-trailer that resulted in the victim trucking and insurance company paid out a total of approximately $4.7 million for the fraudulent claims
In addition to the four-year prison sentences for Robinson and Harris, each were also sentenced to three years of supervised release. They must also pay a $100 mandatory special assessment fee. Regarding restitution, the couple and their co-conspirators will be held jointly and severally liable for restitution in the total amount of $5,073,358.25. The restitution amount includes the total settlement paid by the victim trucking company and their excess insurer, as well as attorneys’ fees incurred by the trucking company in the course of defending against the fraudulent civil lawsuit stemming from the staged accident.
[Related: Dodging the ambulance chasers]
Pilot launches year-round military discount
Pilot Company and its family of travel center brands announced this week a new year-round military discount program.
The exclusive 10% discount on food and beverages is now available to all veterans, active-duty and retired service members, National Guard, Reserves, spouses and their immediate family members once validated through ID.me in Pilot’s myRewards Plus app.
Once users are verified through ID.me in the myRewards Plus app, a green military badge will appear on the user's profile page and a permanent saved offer tile will be on the Rewards page of the app indicating the discount is active.
The discount can be redeemed at participating owned and operated locations, including over 700 Pilot Flying J and One9 Fuel Network travel centers and 680 fast food restaurants in the U.S.
TA raising money for St. Christopher Fund
TravelCenters of America is launching a fundraising campaign at locations nationwide to benefit the St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund.
From July 1 through Labor Day, Sept. 6, TA customers will have the option to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar, with all proceeds of the round-up amount benefitting SCF.
"TA began its support of SCF in 2010 and has since raised nearly $3 million for the organization. We are honored and humbled by the support we receive from TravelCenters of America and its generous customers," said Donna Kennedy, Director of SCF. "Professional drivers always support each other and we are confident when they see the point-of-sale fundraiser at TA registers across the country, they will be proud to help. This campaign will have an immense impact for those in need."