Owner of 8 illegal trucking companies pleads guilty to CARES Act fraud

May 16, 2024

Tyson Fisher


The former owner of eight trucking companies is facing prison time for a scheme to fraudulently obtain CARES Act funds while operating multiple chameleon carriers.

Roderick Billingslea of Acworth, Ga., has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of falsification of records for bilking the federal government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Georgia man had obtained COVID-19 relief funds for a trucking company that was no longer in operation. An investigation revealed several chameleon carriers registered by Billingslea.

Billingslea registered his first trucking company, Billingslea Inc., with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2018 using a Jacksonville, Fla., address as the principal place of business. In June 2019, he registered Freight Angels LLC with the same address. In October of that same year, Billingslea registered a third trucking company, Wild Bill’s Heavy Haul, with a principal place of business in Acworth.

Things began to go south for Billingslea and his trucking companies fairly quickly. Just one month after registering Wild Bill’s Heavy Haul, FMCSA completed a compliance review of Billingslea Inc. That review found serious violations of FMCSA and hazardous material regulations. The company was given 60 days to correct the violations.

In January 2020, FMCSA issued a final order to the company to cease and desist all trucking operations, revoking Billingslea Inc.’s registration. The final order applied to Billingslea’s two other trucking companies as well, a measure the agency takes to ensure operations of a company forced to shut down do not move to another company.

CARES Act fraud

Although COVID-19 hit the U.S. after Billingslea’s trucking companies were shut down, that did not stop him from pursuing relief funds for small businesses affected by the pandemic.

After pandemic-related quarantines decimated small businesses across the country in early 2020, the federal government stepped in to help them. In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted. The act created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which allocated hundreds of billions of dollars in forgivable loans to small businesses struggling to keep workers employed while the economy came to a grinding halt.

In June 2020, Billingslea filed a PPP loan application for Billingslea Inc. He claimed the company had 25 employees with a monthly payroll of more than $200,000 despite the company being ordered to shut down before the pandemic took hold. Based on false information provided, a loan for nearly $600,000 was approved, all of which was forgiven.

Funds illegally obtained through the PPP loan program were used for personal gain and to operate eight illegal trucking companies.

Multiple chameleon carriers

The investigation into Billingslea revealed numerous trucking companies registered after FMCSA shut down his first three.

FMCSA’s January 2020 final order shut down the three trucking companies Billingslea owned at the time. When he registered the last two, he correctly disclosed his relationship with the other trucking companies.

From June 2020 through October 2022, Billingslea, or someone acting on his behalf, registered five trucking companies with a principal place of business scattered throughout the United States:

This time around, Billingslea decided not to disclose his relationship with other carriers when registering the companies. FMCSA requires registrants to reveal certain business relationships with motor carriers over the past three years.

In February, Billingslea was indicted on two counts of wire fraud related to the PPP loan scheme and five counts of falsification of records, one count for each of the five trucking companies registered after January 2020. He pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of falsifying records. Sentencing is scheduled for July. LL

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