Former fleet co-owner charged in $9M fraud case | Another 47K trucks caught up in steering gear recall

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Aug. 8, 2022:

Former trucking company co-owner who murdered husband charged in fraud scheme

Frances Hall, the former co-owner of San Antonio-based Bill Hall Jr. Trucking, who was convicted of murdering her husband Bill Hall Jr., is now facing charges in a $9 million fraud scheme, according to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI).

Frances turned herself in to Bexar County, Texas, authorities last week, more than a month after a warrant was issued for her arrest.

According to TDI, its Division of Workers’ Compensation discovered that between 2009 and 2016, she allegedly provided false payroll information to Texas Mutual Insurance Company and concealed payroll reports to get lower insurance premiums for the Halls’ gravel hauling business.

The scheme allowed the company and its owners to avoid more than $9 million in premium payments, TDI alleged.

“The Texas workers’ compensation system is funded through premiums that employers pay,” said Travis County prosecutor Jessica Bergeman. “The system relies on the integrity of all who participate to ensure that workers’ compensation is viable and able to protect injured workers."

If Hall is convicted, she could face up to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Frances Hall in 2016 was convicted of murder for  the 2013 death of Bill Hall Jr., her husband and a well-known custom truck builder, when she struck Bill’s motorcycle with her Cadillac Escalade while chasing his mistress, who was driving another vehicle. Bill Hall Jr. was injured in the crash and later died in the hospital. Frances was convicted and served just two years after a jury found she acted as a result of sudden passion and was given the minimum sentence for murder.

[Related: Bill Hall Jr.'s 'El Patron' 2004 Kenworth]

Steering gear recall hits 47k Kenworth, Peterbilt trucks

More than 47,000 Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks equipped with recalled Sheppard steering gears are being recalled to ensure the steering gears do not fracture, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

According to the recall issued by Paccar, the affected steering gears were assembled with fewer than the required number of recirculating balls, which can lead to a fracture in the steering gear worm-shaft and loss of vehicle steering.

The vehicle population included in the recall was determined using a list of steering gear serial numbers from Sheppard identifying units that had re-work done that could have resulted in incorrect recirculating ball assembly.

Paccar’s recall includes approximately 47,513 model year 2022-2023 Kenworth T170, T270, T280, T370, T380, T440, T470, T480, T680, T800, T880, W900, W990, and C500 trucks, and model year 2022-2023 Peterbilt 325, 330, 337, 348, 365, 367, 389, 520, 536, 537, 548, 567, and 579 vehicles.

Dealers will inspect the steering gear serial numbers, and replace the steering gears as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Sept. 26.  Owners may contact Kenworth's customer service at 1-425-828-5888 and Peterbilt's customer service at 1-940-591-4220.  PACCAR's numbers for this recall are 22PBE and 22KWE. NHTSA’s recall number is 22V-547.

1,300 Daimler trucks recalled over ECM issue

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is recalling approximately 1,375 model year 2023 Freightliner 108SD, 114SD, Business Class M2 and Cascadia trucks; 2023 Freightliner FCCC MC, MT45, S2C 106CAB, XCM, S2RV 106CAB, XCR and XCS models; and 2023 Western Star 4700, 49X and 47X trucks. 

In the affected trucks, the engine control module (ECM) may experience an internal short-circuit, which can result in an unexpected engine shut down.

The remedy is currently under development. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Sept. 26. Owners may contact DTNA customer service at 1-800-547-0712 with recall number FL-949. NHTSA’s recall number is 22V-554.