CDLs for bribes: Texas sentencing | CARB's new program to help owner-ops transition to 'zero-emission' trucks

Updated Jul 14, 2022

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, July 11, 2022:

CARB launching new pilot program to help small fleets transition to zero-emission trucks

The California Air Resources Board is set to launch a pilot program that aims to help small trucking fleets make the transition to "zero-emission" technologies.

The Innovative Small e-Fleet pilot will focus on privately owned and nonprofit trucking fleets with 20 or fewer trucks and less than $15 million in annual revenue.

The pilot will provide $25 million to help small fleets make the transition to no-tailpipe-emissions trucks. Programs will include flexible financing, short-term rentals, and full-service leases, such as all-inclusive truck-as-a-service options with enhanced incentives and fueling support. The pilot is within the larger Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP).

[Related: Cutting through the heavy-duty e-trucks hype

Small fleets and owner-operators face multiple barriers to adoption of these new technologies, from high upfront costs to limited financing and complex planning for charging. By dedicating this set-aside funding for small fleets, CARB believes HVIP can position itself to better understand the specific needs of this group within trucking and support new-equipment adoption.

Small fleets will work with a CARB- and HVIP administrator-approved provider to request a voucher. Dealers and their financing partners, leasing and rental companies, or truck-as-a-service providers can serve as providers.

Interested fleets are invited to attend an informational session about the new pilot program on Aug. 2, in advance of the formal launch of the program on Aug. 31, when the program will open for voucher requests from eligible small fleets.

[Related: How politics and PR cloud 'zero-emissions' reality]

Former Texas DPS employee sentenced for CDL scheme

A San Antonio man formerly employed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) was sentenced last week to two years in prison for his role in a commercial driver’s license bribery and fraud scheme.

According to court documents, from January 2017 until June 2019, Alonzo Blackman, 68, oversaw the issuance of CDLs. An investigation revealed Blackman did not administer the CDL skills test to applicants but passed them as if the test had been conducted. 

Blackman issued 215 fraudulent CDLs and was paid approximately $1,000 per CDL. Bribes were paid to Blackman by two co-defendants, Fernando Guardado Vazquez, 43, of San Antonio, and Marino Maury Diaz-Leon, 55, a Cuban national living in San Antonio. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, of the 215 fraudulent CDLs, 197 went to Cuban nationals; 11 to U.S. citizens; one to a Dominican Republic national; one to an Ethiopian national; one to an Iraqi national; one to a Puerto Rican national; one to a Ukrainian national; and two to Mexican nationals. 

On Feb. 13, 2020, Blackman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and honest services fraud. In addition to the prison sentence, Blackman was ordered to pay a $215,000 judgment.

Codefendant Diaz-Leon also was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. On May 26, 2021, Diaz-Leon pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and honest services fraud.

Codefendant Vazquez is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 10.  On May 9, 2022, Vazquez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud.

“This case represents an appalling breach of public trust and safety,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “Our office will continue to work with the FBI and our other law enforcement partners to hold corrupt officials and those who conspire with them accountable for their criminal actions.”

Two Daimler recalls affect small number of Cascadias

Daimler Trucks North America has issued two recalls, both involving brake systems, affecting 17 model year 2022 Freightliner Cascadia trucks each, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

In one recall, the Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) fault codes will not be stored when the vehicle is keyed off for more than five seconds, impairing its diagnostic features and warning light. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard number 121, "Air Brake Systems."

An ABS system that does not store fault codes may fail to warn the driver of an issue, or prevent proper repair, the recall said.

The remedy is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Aug. 23, 2022. Owners can contact DTNA customer service at 800-547-0712 with recall number FL-943. NHTSA’s recall number is 22V-456.

In the second recall, the electronic parking brake may not engage when the vehicle is keyed off, which may result in a vehicle rollaway. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard numbers 121, "Air Brake Systems," and 136, "Electronic Stability Control Systems on Heavy Vehicles."

The remedy for this issue is also currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Aug. 29, 2022. Owners can contact DNTA customer service at 800-547-0712 with recall number FL-945. NHTSA’s recall number is 22V-468.

Great Dane recalling 9 van trailers

Great Dane Trailers is recalling approximately nine model year 2023 Champion dry van trailers on which the incorrect axle spindle nuts may have been installed, which could result in bearing failure.

According to the recall, a bearing failure could lead to wheel detachment, or a loss of control of the trailer.

Great Dane will provide instructions to owners to install a one-piece spindle nut, and if necessary, replace the bearings and the seal, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on Aug. 18, 2022. Owners can contact Great Dane's customer service at 877-369-3493. NHTSA’s recall number is 22V-448.