Feb. 25 noteworthy date for Imperial Group victims

| Friday, February 07, 2003

Florida truck broker Byron Hunt, 53, was ordered to Florida’s Polk County Jail Oct. 21 and later released after posting a $15,000 bond. He was charged with scheming to defraud owner-operators and could receive a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Hunt, who did business with the Imperial Group, is scheduled for a pre-trial conference Feb. 25, 2003, in Polk County. The conference is open to the public and is the last court appearance before trial. It is generally the last time a defendant can enter a negotiated plea before trial.

If you are a victim and wish to attend this proceeding, call Angie Kirkland at the State Attorney’s Office at (863) 534-4804 to find out the courtroom location. Hearings are always scheduled for 8:30 a.m.

Hunt’s arrest came after nearly three years of documentation and effort by OOIDA’s Business Services unit to get Imperial to pay owner-operators for trips Imperial arranged. Hunt told investigators the nation’s slow economy was the primary reason for Imperial’s failure to pay numerous carriers and owner-operators the past two years.

The arrest stems from a combination of alleged offenses outlined by 14 OOIDA members and other firms doing business with Imperial. According to a 20-page complaint filed by the 10th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office, Hunt was general manager and broker for Imperial Group Inc., a truck brokerage firm, at the time of the offense.

"While in this position, the defendant entered into a systematic ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud small independent trucking companies by refusing to pay for the services rendered.

"The total loss represented in this complaint is in excess of $50,000 … About 30 trucking companies … have provided freight transportation to Imperial Group and not been paid for their services," the complaint said.

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