HARRISONBURG, Va. — A Mount Crawford, Virginia-based trucking company that formerly hauled United States mail, as well as four of its officers, the president, vice president, chief financial officer and chief operating officer, pled guilty Tuesday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg to federal conspiracy charges, acting U.S. attorney Rick A. Mountcastle said Wednesday.
Beam Brothers pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, that being falsification of records in contemplation of a federal matter.
Beam Brothers had a contract with the United States Postal Service to transport mail.
Beam Brothers Holding, the parent company of Beam Brothers Trucking, also pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
As part of the plea agreement, Beam Brothers agreed to pay a fine of $250,000 and forfeit $2 million of fraudulently obtained proceeds. Beam Brothers will also pay approximately $1 million in restitution to drivers who were defrauded of their pay.
In addition, the four most senior officers of the company pled guilty to related misdemeanor conspiracy charges.
In separate pleadings, Gerald Wayne Beam, 67; Garland Crawford Beam, 62; Shaun Crawford Beam, 36, all of Mount Crawford, and Nickolas Gene Kozel, 40, of Harrisonburg, each pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to knowingly violate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration highway safety regulations.
According to evidence between 1999 and 2017, Beam Brothers Trucking knowingly violated the FMCSA safety regulations by encouraging, permitting, causing or requiring drivers for Beam Brothers Trucking to make trips in violation of federal safety regulations designed to prevent commercial motor vehicle crashes caused by fatigued drivers.
Those violations included falsely recording their duty statuses; encouraging and permitting some Beam Brothers Trucking commercial motor vehicle drivers to falsify their time sheets to report fewer hours worked than they actually worked; telling some Beam Brothers Trucking drivers that they would not be paid for short rest periods; for time waiting for their trailers to be loaded or unloaded at postal facilities; failing to inform some Beam Brothers Trucking drivers of pay requirements of the mail contracts; failing to review and consider some Beam Brothers Trucking drivers’ requests for additional pay and failing to pay some Beam Brothers Trucking CMV drivers as required under the federal Service Contract Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the mail contracts.
The federal prosecutors had been working on an indictment for over seven years, according to the Harrisonburg Daily News Record.
They finally got one in March.
“These charges are entirely without merit and illustrate government overreaching at its worst,” Mark Obenshain, Gerald Beam’s attorney said at the time the indictment was revealed. “We will aggressively defend this case and are confident we will be completely vindicated at trial.”
In the meantime, Illinois-based Eagle Express Lines reached an agreement to take over trucking operations from Beam Brothers subject to final due diligence. The agreement includes the interim financing for Beam’s current obligations and operation until the takeover of operations.
Also as part of the agreement, all current Beam Bros. employees will become Eagle Express Lines employees.