HHG moving company owner gets prison time for fraud scheme

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022:

New Jersey moving company owner gets prison time for defrauding customers

Lior Atiyas (a.k.a. David Cohen), the owner of a moving company using several names, was sentenced July 14 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to 22 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $200 special assessment. Atiyas was also ordered to forfeit $587,097, according to the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General.

In November 2020, Atiyas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. According to court documents and statements made in court, Atiyas devised a scheme to enrich a moving company, using several names to conceal the company’s true identity, including Premier Relocations LLC, Metro Van Lines, Inc., and others.

Between January 2016 and January 2019, Atiyas and an employee reportedly extorted customers by quoting them low estimates for moving household goods. Once the goods were loaded on trucks, Atiyas directed employees to raise moving prices to amounts that were often two or three times more than initial quotes. Customers were refused their property until they paid the higher prices.

Atiyas also admitted to participating in a scheme to defraud Medicaid by generating false paystubs and employment documents to obtain Medicaid benefits for an uncharged conspirator.

[Related: $22M judgement against household mover in Florida]

FMCSA announces $3.1 million in grants to bring veterans into trucking

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has awarded $3.1 million to community colleges and training institutes through the Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator Safety Training (CMVOST) Grant Program that will assist current and former members of the Armed Forces who want to pursue careers in trucking to get commercial driver’s licenses and the training they need to enter the profession.

“Veterans know how to get things where they need to go safely,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “At a time when our supply chain depends on having more qualified truck drivers, this program will give those who have served in uniform a new and important way to contribute, and benefit, by launching a new career in this vital industry.”

The CMVOST grant program has three goals: to expand the number of CDL holders possessing enhanced operator safety training; to provide opportunities for current or former members of the United States Armed Forces (including National Guard members and reservists) and their spouses to enter trucking; and help increase training opportunities for candidates from underserved communities.

In fiscal year 2022, FMCSA paved the way for a broader range of institutions to apply for CMVOST grants, as the agency did not require applicants to propose a local matching share of funding. FMCSA said this expansion will allow more qualified candidates from across the country to more easily be able to afford the training and licensing needed to join the trucking profession.

A list of CMVOST grants can be found here.

STEER Coalition aims to drive passage of lower-emission-truck voucher legislation

On July 20, the STEER Coalition was formed to drive the passage of the Supporting Trucking Efficiency and Emission Reductions (STEER) Act, a bill that would incentivize greater adoption of fuel-saving technologies for heavy-duty trucks by offering vouchers to owners who adopt the tech.

STEER Coalition members include Aperia Technologies, CiBUS21, Covenant Transportation, DHL, Idle Smart, Link Manufacturing, Stoneridge, The International Council on Clean Transportation, TruckLabs and Western Express.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by the House of Representatives in July 2021 and would establish a $500 million voucher program to offset the up-front costs of fuel-saving technologies so fleets can choose the technologies which work best in their operations, rather than a one fits all model. The bill, as proposed, would offer vouchers that cover the lesser of the following: 

  • $4,000 or 75% of total costs per unit for fleets operating 10 or fewer trucks
  • $3,500 or 72.5% of total costs per unit for fleets operating 50 trucks or fewer
  • $3,000 or 70% of total costs per unit for fleets operating 100 trucks or fewer
  • $2,500 or 67.5% of total costs per unit for fleets operating more than 100 trucks

[Related: A run at mobile CO2 capture, straight from the stacks -- and growing markets for the gas]

The coalition said the STEER Act can provide immediate reductions in CO2 emissions and support for the trucking industry as it could improve efficiencies by up to 15%, reducing annual domestic fuel consumption by 4.5 billion gallons and decreasing CO2 emissions by 50 million tons.

As its first order of business, the STEER Coalition recognizes that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is an important bill to address both climate and combat rising inflation, but it believes the bill misses a key opportunity to make it far more effective at both goals. The coalition is calling on legislators who are looking for pragmatic, timely and costed solutions to either get this important piece of legislation formally introduced as a stand-alone bill in the Senate or to consider adding the STEER Act to the Inflation Reduction Act as the best bang for the buck to reduce the U.S.’s carbon emissions.

[Related: Bill floated to pay truck owners to install fuel efficient tech, devices]

GP Transco offers online earnings calculator

Illinois-based trucking company GP Transco recently debuted an online earnings calculator for owner-operators designed to provide information on how much they can earn each week.

Owner-operators input the number of desired weekly miles into the calculator, then the tool instantly provides the expected rate-per-mile, weekly revenue, and gross weekly earnings, according to a statement from the company.

The calculator factors in real-time national fuel prices from the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, national average truck miles per gallon, and the current GP Transco owner-operators’ rate-per-mile to provide users with the most accurate and up-to-date earnings information.

The calculator also allows users to compare the GP Transco rate-per-mile and weekly take-home pay to current national averages provided by DAT Freight & Analytics.

You can calculate your expected earnings with GP Transco here.

[Related: Understanding costs/profit in relation to time for better load evaluations]

Love’s opens first Connecticut location

Love’s Travel stops last week opened its first location in Connecticut. The new store is located off I-84 at Exit 71.

The location features 56 truck parking spaces, Godfather’s Pizza and Subway restaurants, seven diesel bays, three showers and more.

“Opening our first location in Connecticut reaffirms Love’s commitment to providing quality products and services that are easy to access for customers across the U.S.,” said Greg Love, co-CEO of Love’s.