Attorney pleads guilty in staged-accident fraud scheme | FMCSA delays portions of electronic medical certification rule
Trucking news and briefings for Monday, June 21, 2021:
Attorney pleads guilty to attempted fraud with staged accident
Just days after two pledges of guilt in the widespread staged accident fraud program in New Orleans, a lawyer who played a role in the system also pleaded guilty, according to US Attorney Duane A. Evans.
According to Evans, attorney Danny Patrick Keating Jr. pleaded guilty to the postal and wire fraud conspiracy for his involvement in the case. Keating was the 33rd defendant charged in the federal investigation with willful staging of truck accidents in the New Orleans area. Of the 33 defendants, 23 pleaded guilty to a federal court.
Keating admitted to conspiring with Damian Labeaud and others to defraud insurance companies, trading companies and freight forwarders.
Labeaud referred staged accidents to Keating and other personal injury attorneys in New Orleans for $ 1,000 per passenger in truck accidents and $ 500 per passenger in non-truck accidents. Keating allegedly advanced Labeaud thousands of dollars for the accidents and instructs Labeaud that he owes Keating a certain number of accidents based on the amount of money advanced.
Keating admitted knowingly paying Labeaud for 31 staged truck accidents. He represented 77 plaintiffs who were involved in the 31 accidents staged by Labeaud. He also handled 17 of the 31 staged accidents and made about $ 1.5 million for his clients.
Keating faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $ 250,000 or double the gross profit of the accused or double the gross loss for any person in the offense.
FMCSA is delaying the rule for electronic medical certification
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will release a final rule Tuesday officially delaying the compliance date for a system that streamlines communication between state driver license agencies and the FMCSA regarding drivers’ medical certification.
The agency published a preliminary final rule in 2018 that extends the compliance date for the rule to June 22, 2021. However, the corresponding systems are not yet in place, so the agency is delaying implementation until June 23, 2025. The “will” renewal will give the FMCSA time to complete certain IT systems development tasks for their National Register of Certified Medical Examiners and give State Driver Licensing Authorities (SDLAs) sufficient time to make the necessary IT programming changes when the new one National registry system is ready and available, ”said FCMSA in the announcement.
The regulation, which partly came into force in 2015, requires the FMCSA to electronically transmit the results of the drivers’ medical certificates to the SDLAs after the tests have been completed. FMCSA receives this information from medical assessors, who must upload the exam results to FMCSA by midnight on the day after the exam is completed. Government agencies, once they receive the results from FMCSA, send the results to the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) to alert other states of the results.
Once the rule is fully implemented, motor companies no longer need to demonstrate that CDL / CLP drivers have been certified by a certified medical assessor listed on the National Register.
The proposal to postpone the fulfillment date means that by June 22, 2025:
- Certified MEs would continue to issue medical examiner (MEC) certificates to qualified CLP / CDL applicants / holders.
- CLP / CDL applicants / holders would continue to provide a copy of their MEC to the SDLA.
- The road transport companies would continue to check whether the drivers were certified by an ME listed in the national register.
- SDLAs would continue to process paper copies of MECs received from CLP / CDL applicants / holders.
Reopening date for I-40 bridge still unknown silent
Work on the Hernando de Soto Bridge, which spans Interstate 40 across the Mississippi between Arkansas and Tennessee, continues, but officials involved in the project have no date for the critical span to reopen. Officials believe the work will continue through at least July.
The bridge, which normally carries around 41,000 vehicles a day, has been closed since May 11th when a routine inspection found a large crack in a steel girder.
Currently, all interstate traffic in the Memphis area is being diverted to I-55. Details on the diversion can be found here.
Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited the bridge earlier this month. “The situation with this bridge may be a regional problem, but it is a national problem,” said Buttigieg.
It is estimated that the closure of the I-40 bridge will cost the trucking industry about $ 2.4 million a day.
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