Kentucky duo face prison in freight fraud indictments

In Louisville, Kentucky, last month, a federal grand jury indicted Yeniseis and Alien Saavedra for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and disaster fraud, prosecutors said. Yeniseis was also charged with filing a false statement and aggravated identity theft.

Both Saavedras made initial court appearances this week before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. If convicted, Yeniseis faces a mandatory minimum of 2 years and up to 87 in prison, while Alien could be sentenced up to 50 years, for an alleged conspiracy to defraud factoring companies by submitting false bills of lading, among other charges.

[Related: Fight double-brokering fraud: Prevention, ways to elevate enforcement]

The indictment also charges both Saavedras with crimes related to their filing for lost-wage assistance payments, authorized by a Presidential Memorandum resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Kentucky Office of Unemployment. Prosecutors allege the filing for assistance payments on behalf of Alien Saavedra failed to report that Saavedra was receiving wages from the motor carrier industry at the time. Yeniseis' identity-theft charge then stems from application to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for operating authority for one "C.S.," according to the DOJ's release. "C.S. was not aware of the application filing," however, and Yeniseis Saavedra, the government said, was in fact operating the trucking company. 

Saavedra went on to fraudulently claim lost wage assistance payments in C.S.'s name as well, prosecutors allege, with the Kentucky Office of Unemployment. C.S. had no knowledge of the application, and those payments were ultimately sent to a bank account controlled by Saavedra.

The case stems from an investigation conducted by the DOT's OIG and the Postal Inspection Service, with the assistance of the Department of Labor OIG. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Ansari is prosecuting this case. 

[Related: More freight fraud inbound? Spot rates pessimism sets the stage]

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