Rhode Island couple enters plea deal for falsifying inspection reports
July 10, 2019
A Rhode Island couple pleaded guilty to charges after investigators said the pair coerced drivers of their two trucking companies to falsify daily vehicle inspection reports. The plea agreement reduces seven felony counts to one misdemeanor count.
On June 28, Leslie and Robert Cucino pleaded guilty to one count of failure to comply with Department of Transportation regulations in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island. The couple owned CDE Corp., established in 2009, and Winsor Hill Hauling and Recycling, which was established in 2015. Both companies transported refuse and scrap metal.
According to the indictment that was originally filed in April 2018, the Cucinos coerced drivers to falsify daily vehicle inspection reports by threatening termination if they did not. Drivers were told to indicate “no defects” on the reports despite the trucks having serious safety defects. False reports for CDE drivers were filed in official CDE files in the event of a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration inspection.
The indictment highlights six occasions the Cucinos falsified daily reports.
On July 20, 2013, a Mack truck pulling a trailer was recorded as having no defects. However, earlier that same day that same truck was cited by Massachusetts State Police for having major mechanical safety defects. A Western Star truck owned by the Cucinos was cited for the same issues that same day and was also listed as having no defects. Two days later, another Mack truck was cited and listed as “no defects” in the company’s inspection report.
This same scenario played out in October 2013 and in September and October 2014.
According to FMCSA’s website last year, both trucking companies indicated having only one truck and one driver. CDE lost its operating authority after failing to complete its biennial MCS-150 update. CDE’s last MCS-150 form date was in October 2015.
Last year, FMCSA’s records showed Winsor Hill Hauling and Recycling went through nine inspections. Although no drivers were placed out of service, vehicles were placed out of service in six of those nine inspections, or 66.7%. The national average for vehicles placed out of service is 20.72%.
At publication time, updated records for Winsor Hill Hauling and Recycling show the company is still active with no out-of-service date. However, there has been no inspection activity in the past 24 months.
The married couple was indicted on seven charges of false statements in April 2018. On June 17, the two reached a plea agreement that reduced the seven felony counts to one misdemeanor count of failure to comply with DOT regulations. The plea deal will also dismiss all counts against the two companies, leaving only the two individuals on the hook.
Each of the original seven false statement counts carried a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release. The reduced charge carries a maximum sentence of one year of imprisonment, a $25,000 fine and one year of supervised release.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 16.