CDL testing scheme: School owner gets 5 years in prison for bribery

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, April 18, 2024:

5-year prison sentence for bribery handed to former CDL-school owner

The former owner of a Philadelphia CDL school has been sentenced to time in prison for bribing a CDL examiner.

United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Vladimir Tsymbalenko, 53, the former owner of Vlad’s CDL School in Philadelphia, was sentenced to 57 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $5,000 fine for bribing an examiner to pass some of his students who did not actually pass (never even took in some cases) the CDL examination, and for asking a witness to lie.

On Oct. 11, 2023, Tsymbalenko pleaded guilty to one count of bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds and one count of witness tampering.

“The last thing anyone should want on our roads are people behind the wheel of big rigs or school buses with bogus CDL certifications,” Romero said. “Licensure standards are intended to ensure that someone has the training and skills needed to safely move these huge vehicles and their cargo -- human or otherwise -- from Point A to Point B. As Tsymbalenko’s nearly five-year prison sentence shows, my office and our partners will work to hold accountable anyone seeking to evade such critical government regulations.”

The case was investigated by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania State Police, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney K.T. Newton.

[Related: Colorado retesting 183 CDL drivers after Randy Lopez CDL school shuttered]

Freightliner builds 1 millionth Cascadia

Freightliner recently celebrated a significant milestone with the production of the 1 millionth Freightliner Cascadia -- the first Class 8 truck in North America to reach the seven-figure mark, the company said.

“For more than 80 years, Freightliner has been dedicated to serving its customers with purposeful and innovative transportation solutions to help businesses succeed,” said David Carson, SVP of sales and marketing at DTNA. “When the Freightliner Cascadia launched in 2007, it was designed to do exactly that, and we are incredibly grateful to our customers who have placed their trust in the Cascadia and Freightliner to help us reach the 1 million mark. With our flagship Cascadia, our commitment to making a safer, cleaner, and more cost-efficient solution for our customers has never wavered. And we are not done yet.”

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What started as an idea to develop a truck with new aerodynamic, lightweight, and uptime-improving features has since evolved through four generations of the platform, the company noted. Its innovations have been designed for driver comfort, increased safety, and reduced fuel consumption. Notably, since its original introduction, the Cascadia has improved its fuel efficiency by more than 35%.

Freightliner noted that the Cascadia is serving as the vehicle base for the SuperTruck initiative, the multi-year co-funded project by the Department of Energy (DOE) that investigates next-generation technologies for heavy-duty commercial trucks and potential product integration into series production trucks. The battery-electric Freightliner eCascadia, which launched in 2022, has today driven more than 6 million real-world miles with customers across more than 50 fleets in the U.S.

Daimler Truck has also designed an autonomous-ready Cascadia with redundant safety features, which include braking and steering for a truck tailor-made for autonomous driving functionalities and prepared for the integration of any virtual driver. Currently, the autonomous-ready Cascadia is being tested as a self-driving truck in real-world operations by Torc Robotics, an independent subsidiary of DTNA since 2019.

[Related: Lawmakers override guv's veto, clearing autonomous-vehicle path]

St. Christopher raised $13K at MATS 

The St. Christopher Truckers Relief Fund (SCF) raised more than $13,000 through fundraising activities at the Mid-America Trucking Show last month in Louisville, Kentucky.

The funds were raised through a number of activities at the trade show, including a silent auction, booth donations, prize wheels, and corporate/sponsor donations and matches. 

The silent auction during the Opening Night Ceremony, which included more than 50 items donated from MATS vendors and SCF supporters, raised more than $6,000, while booth donations and prize wheel activities in the SCF booth brought in more than $2,000. 

“The trucking industry, our corporate sponsors, and MATS vendors stepped up once again to show their support for the St. Christopher Fund and the work we do all year long for truckers in need,” said Shannon Currier, Director of Philanthropy at St. Christopher Fund. “We are so grateful for the support we receive at this event, because it allows us to help truck drivers when they need it most, as well as support our proactive wellness programs for drivers throughout the year.” 

Additional fundraising activities at the show resulted in several corporate sponsors raising thousands of dollars, including Carter Express, which donated $1,000 through U.S. Army Veteran and Citizen Driver Sgt. Don Talley (Ret.); Heartland Express, which provided a $1,000 matching donation; TravelCenters of America, which raised more than $1,000 through their Spin the Wheel activation in their booth; and Shell Rotella, whose Plinko game in their booth raised $1,500.  

The SCF provides short-term relief to Class A OTR drivers suffering from an illness or injury that took them out of work within the last year. The SCF also provides several free preventive health and wellness programs for OTR drivers in an effort to keep them on the road, including tobacco cessation, diabetes prevention, chronic disease management, at-home cancer screenings, and vaccine vouchers.

[Related: A shot at affordable health insurance, and new Driver Advocacy Network, with CDL Drivers Unlimited]