FHWA Announces Maximum Penalties For Truckers Violating Safety Regulations; Two To Serve Time in Federal Prison
Federal Highway Administration
June 7, 1999
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 7, 1999
Contact: Gail Shibley
Tel: (202) 366-0660
Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle today announced that two trucking company officials have been sentenced to time in federal prison, a lengthy probation and maximum fines for violating federal hours of service regulations.
"We have made significant advances in safety, and this enforcement action underscores our commitment to further improving the level of safety on America's highways," U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said. "Tough enforcement of regulations is an important part of our safety action plan to reduce deaths from those crashes."
Slater and Wykle on May 25 announced a safety action plan that combines stronger enforcement, tougher penalties, new regulations, advanced technology, and education and research to reduce by 50 percent in 10 years the number of deaths on the nation's highways associated with commercial vehicles.
"This enforcement action demonstrates we are serious about our safety action plan which stresses improved safety through stronger enforcement and tougher penalties," Wykle said. "Those who disregard truck safety regulations and endanger the traveling public will feel the full force of federal response."
Charles Georgoulakos Jr. and his brother, James Georgoulakos, owners of C&J Trucking Company, Inc., of Londonderry, N.H., were sentenced to federal prison for violating federal trucking safety regulations. Each defendant was ordered to serve four months in a federal prison followed by eight months in home confinement and one year on supervised release. C&J Trucking was placed on two years probation and fined $25,000, the maximum amount allowable under law.
These sentences came at the conclusion of an investigation which began when one of the trucking company's drivers was involved in a collision on Interstate 93 in Londonderry on Aug. 2, 1995, in which four individuals were killed.
The defendants admitted that they knowingly and willfully permitted employee truck drivers to violate hours of service safety regulations. The corporation executed a scheme to hide illegal hours of driving from detection by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) safety investigators who conduct periodic examinations of trucking companies' records. The scheme involved paying drivers "off the books" for illegal driving time through an account other than the normal payroll account .
The prison sentences are a result of a joint effort by the FHWA; the U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire, Paul M. Gagnon; and the New Hampshire State Police to increase truck safety through greater compliance with safety regulations.
C&J Trucking Company, Inc., a Massachusetts corporation doing business throughout New England with headquarters in New Hampshire, is in the business of collecting and transporting solid waste. At the time of the 1995 crash, it employed approximately 35 drivers and 38 trucks. Charles Georgoulakos Jr. is the president of the company and an owner; James Georgoulakos is the treasurer and an owner.
All three defendants (the two owners and the corporation) were charged with violating safety regulations which are part a comprehensive framework to ensure the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles and protect the public. The specific regulations violated by these defendants limit the number of hours truck drivers are allowed to drive and are generally known as "hours of service regulations."
C&J Trucking Company, Inc., through its attorneys, issued a statement "acknowledging that it pled guilty and was sentenced to a two-year term of probation and fined $25,000.00. [That it] has also implemented a program to prevent and detect hours of service violations and has agreed to submit to unannounced reviews of its compliance program by agents of the Department of Transportation. C&J Trucking Company, Inc. further acknowledged the importance of all trucking companies complying with the hours of service regulations."
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