Four Beam Bros. Trucking executives have accepted a deal to plead guilty to one misdemeanor after being charged for more than 120 felony counts earlier this year, according to court documents. The trucking company was accused of falsifying records and coercing employees to violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations during its 10-year contract with the U.S. Postal Service.
On May 16, Gerald Beam, Garland Beam, Shaun Beam and Nickolas Kozel pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiring to commit an offense against the United States by knowingly and willfully violating FMCSA regulations. Essentially, the four pleaded guilty to an hours-of-service violation.
In March, the four were indicted on 126 felony charges, including more than 50 counts each of false statements and falsifying records.
Although the four executives escaped felony charges, Beam Bros. Trucking, the company, was found guilty of at least one felony count and was fined $250,000 and must pay $2 million in forfeitures and $1 million in restitution.
The four individuals can face one year of confinement and a fine of $25,000 each. However, it is unlikely the judge will pursue those penalties, according to an attorney familiar with the case.
Since 1999, Gerald Beam, Garland Beam, Shaun Beam and Nickolas Kozel of Beam Bros. Trucking either encouraged or required employees to violate Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, including hours-of-service regs, according to federal court documents. This was done by planning trips that could not be completed within HOS and encouraging drivers to falsify records of duty status.
Additionally, Beam Bros. Trucking did not pay drivers for “on-duty” time as required by the Service Contract Act (SCA). SCA requires subcontractors hired by the U.S. government to pay employees for each hour or portion of an hour worked at a rate no less than minimum wage. According to SCA regulations, this includes waiting time. Only periods of time when an employee is “completely relieved of duty and long enough for him or her to effectively use that time for their own purposes” are considered “off-duty” when working under SCA.
According to court documents, drivers for Beam Bros. Trucking may not have been aware of the SCA pay plan. Drivers were told they would not be paid for short rest periods, waiting for loads, etc. An indictment claims drivers were not informed of SCA pay requirements. Beam Bros. Trucking prevented drivers who were aware of SCA from sharing that information with fellow drivers and government agencies.
Because the egregious cover-up of driver pay and violations of FMCSA regulations was done under a government contract, Beam Brothers was charged with Conspiracy to Commit an Offense Against the United States, among the many other charges.
Approximately one month after the original indictment, Beam Bros. was taken over by Illinois-based Eagle Express Lines.