Four from South Carolina Indicted For Fraud In Ongoing Crackdown on Motor Carrier Violators
USDOT Office of the Inspector General
July 8, 1998
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 8, 1998
Contact: Jeff Nelligan
Telephone: (202) 366-6312
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced that four South Carolina individuals and a corporation have been charged with motor carrier fraud in an ongoing OIG crackdown on violators of motor carrier regulations.
Blackwell Auto Brokers, Inc., of Lamar, S.C. and John E. Blackwell, 62; Linda M. Blackwell, 58; William L. Watford, 50; and Joe H. Eddins, Jr., 30, were charged with conspiring to make false statements to the Department of Transportation and filing false claims with insurance companies.
"Accidents involving trucks result in about 5,000 deaths each year, and this case, as well as others around the country, should warn truckers who break the law that public safety will not be compromised," Inspector General Kenneth M. Mead said. "The Office of Inspector General joins Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater and FHWA Administrator Kenneth Wykle in making motor carrier safety one of the department’s highest investigative priorities."
Mead said this case is a part of a concerted and ongoing crackdown on motor carrier violations. Since April 1, Mead said, OIG’s investigations have led to 27 federal indictments and 17 convictions. During this period, the Inspector General’s Office has collected $170,000 in fines, recoveries, and restitutions. Perpetrators have been handed a total of 67 months’ imprisonment and 30 years of probation, and 43 investigations remain under way.
The indictment alleges that the Blackwells, Watford, and Eddins falsely claimed that Watford and Eddins were qualified to drive semi-tractor trailers while working for Blackwell Auto Brokers, Inc. from February 1996 to July 1997. The maximum penalty each could receive is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The case was investigated by agents of department’s Office of Inspector General, the South Carolina State Transport Police and department’s Office of Motor Carriers. Prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney William Day of the District of South Carolina.
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