Fleet owner pleads guilty after illegally consolidating loads, overbilling shippers

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, Feb. 12, 2024:

Ohio trucking company owner pleads guilty in scheme to illegally consolidate loads, overbilling shippers

A Columbus, Ohio-based interstate trucking company owner pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to wire fraud.

According to U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker, Gurtej Singh, 48, illegally overbilled shippers, consolidated shipments, and caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of goods shipped to destinations in Ohio like Bath and Body Works and Amazon warehouses.

Singh admitted to covertly opening sealed trailers and removing goods. Singh and others illegally consolidated loads to save on delivery costs and failed to deliver many goods to their final destinations, Parker added.

According to court documents, from April 2018 until December 2019, Singh was employed by Cargo Solutions Express as the manager of its warehouse on Fisher Road in Columbus. Singh later created his own transport company, owning and managing Bhullar Transport Group LLC from January 2020 until May 2022. Singh maintained a warehouse for his company on Interchange Road in Columbus.

In January 2019, Singh filed an application with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on behalf of Bhullar and lied by stating that he did not have certain relationships with other FMCSA-regulated entities. In reality, Singh was affiliated with Cargo Solutions Express and two other trucking companies, Roadhawk Transportation and Show Time Carrier.

[Related: New sentencing in ongoing emissions 'delete' case]

The trucking companies provided interstate transport services for manufacturers and retailers. The shippers often paid a premium to reserve the entire truck for cargo that they did not want mixed with others’ cargo. To ensure that loads were not tampered with in transit, the shippers utilized typical serialized plastic seals added to the trailer locking mechanism and noted the serial number on the shipping documents. Receivers of the goods could then compare a trailer seal to the paperwork to ensure that the trailer had not been opened.

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Singh and others charged the premium rate, but opened trailers and consolidated cargo to generate higher profits. They altered seal serial numbers and paperwork, among other tactics, to hide the scheme from shippers and receivers.

For example, in December 2018, Cargo Solutions Express picked up a load in Santa Clarita, California, to be delivered to Reynoldsburg, Ohio, containing products for Bath and Body Works. The load was delivered with an intact seal, indicating that the load had not been opened in transit, but 10 pallets of products worth nearly $230,000 were missing.

When law enforcement executed a search warrant at Cargo Solutions Express’ warehouse in Columbus, they discovered the 10 missing pallets, along with several other pallets of goods reported stolen from multiple shipments bound for an Amazon warehouse in Groveport, Ohio.

[Related: Staged accidents: Three more plead guilty, another sentenced]

Mack expanding medium-duty plant

Mack RVO plant expansionMack Trucks is expanding its RVO plant to prepare for higher demand for its MD series and MD Electric trucks.Mack Trucks

Mack Trucks is investing $14.5 million to expand its Roanoke Valley Operations (RVO) manufacturing facility in Virginia to prepare the plant for higher demand for the Mack MD Series and Mack MD Electric vehicles.

“Mack is committed to making the industrial and product investments we need to be a North American market leader,” said Stephen Roy, global president of Mack Trucks. “The expansion of the RVO plant will help us grow in a strategic market segment and support our sustainability goals.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced the $14.5 million investment during an event with state and local officials at RVO. Youngkin approved a $255,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund for the project. The project will result in 51 jobs. Roanoke County offered a package of incentives totaling $842,420.

Mack’s investment will go toward equipment, tooling and a 72,000 square-foot building expansion, making the facility 352,000 square feet. Construction will begin April, and the expansion project is expected to be completed in Q4 2025. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Roanoke County Economic Development and the Roanoke Regional Partnership to secure the project.

The Virginia Jobs Investment Program will support employee training activities, and Mack is eligible to receive state benefits from the Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new full-time jobs created as a result of the project.

All Mack medium-duty models are produced at RVO. Mack launched the diesel-powered Mack MD Series in 2020 and launched the Mack MD Electric in March 2023. Adding the new model to the product lineup increased the need for more space at the facility.

“Customer demand for the Mack MD and MD Electric continues to grow beyond our expectations,” Roy said. “This investment and expansion will well-position Mack Trucks for the future.” 

The diesel-powered Mack MD and MD Electric are available in Class 6 and Class 7 ratings. The Class 6 model has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 25,995 pounds, and the Class 7 model has a GVWR of 33,000 pounds. Both models are exempt from the 12% Federal Excise Tax (FET).

Driver named Highway Angel for helping trucker who dozed off and crashed

Decker Truck Line truck driver Timothy Olden, based in North Chesterfield, Virginia, has been named a Highway Angel by the Truckload Carriers Association for stopping to help a trucker who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed.

Timothy OldenTimothy OldenOn Dec. 22 around 2:30 a.m., Olden was driving on I-40 near mile marker 319 through Crossville, Tennessee. He saw a flatbed driver veer off the offramp and crash, and the trailer ended up lying on the driver’s side. 

“He rolled his truck,” Olden said. “He admitted to me and to the cops that he fell asleep.” 

After witnessing the crash, Olden immediately pulled over, called 911 and helped the driver get out safely. The driver appeared to only have minor injuries like cuts and bruises. Olden remained with the driver until law enforcement arrived. He also told the driver the “Three Yawn Rule.” 

“If you yawn three times in a row, get to a truck stop and rest,” he said. “Go stretch out in the back of the truck.”