By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer
The owner of two Minnesota-based trucking companies has pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding 27 drivers out of more than $120,000.
On Friday, July 29, Marlon Louis Danner, 66, of Inver Grove Heights, MN, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, admitting he forced drivers who received court-ordered payments from his companies to return their checks to him. Danner’s companies provided trucks and drivers for state road construction projects in Minnesota.
According to the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis in December 2010, Danner, owner of Danner Inc. and Bull Dog Leasing Inc., underpaid drivers he contracted with in 2008 and 2009 on a joint highway construction project with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.
Since federal funding was used, Danner was contractually obligated to pay the drivers a certain truck rental rate, but it was later discovered during an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Transportation that he underpaid them. Danner was then required to pay the drivers more than $185,000.
In February 2010, Danner settled with MnDOT and issued checks to the agency to then distribute to the underpaid drivers.
Beginning in late February through June 2010, Danner “began a campaign to obtain return of the MnDOT/Danner settlement funds from the drivers, without informing MnDOT that he was doing so,” according to court documents.
One of the tactics Danner allegedly used included calling drivers who received their checks, stating that MnDOT had made a mistake and that the drivers had not been underpaid after all.
In all, Danner received back more than $120,000 of the $185,000 he was required to pay drivers in settlement money.
If convicted, Danner faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. As of press time, a sentencing hearing had not yet been scheduled.
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