By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Tuesday, March 05, 2013
A Connecticut motor carrier that provided passenger service has pleaded guilty to falsifying driver logbooks when federal investigators asked to inspect them.
According to the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, representatives of New Britain, CT-based Wisla Express LLC pleaded guilty in late February to presenting falsified documents to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The plea was entered in U.S. District Court in Hartford, CT.
Dariusz Szteborowski, of Rocky Hill, CT, the company’s office manager, pleaded guilty Feb. 22 on a criminal charge related to the investigation.
“The investigation disclosed that Szteborowski often created and maintained false and fraudulent driver time records or caused others to create false and fraudulent driver logs in order to meet the prescribed reporting requirements and that Szteborowski submitted logs to the FMCSA that were not only false, but in many cases had not been created by the driver as required under the federal regulations,” the OIG announcement reads.
The OIG’s office said Szteborowski and others working with and for Szteborowski and Wisla routinely assigned drivers on trips knowing they would exceed federally regulated hours-of-service time.
In order to hide these violations from FMCSA inspectors, Szteborowski often instructed the drivers and/or other Wisla employees to record falsely in the logs that the driver was off-duty during those times before Szteborowski turned in the faked logbooks.
The company used time cards with accurate work-hours to pay its drivers before Szteborowski reportedly destroyed the true time cards.
The investigation was completed with assistance from FMCSA.
The Wisla case’s prosecution is noteworthy for its timing.
Beginning Tuesday, March 5, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is opening a comment period to seek public opinion regarding the paperwork burden posed by the continued requirement of motor carriers to maintain driver qualification files. The examination of the requirement is being carried out under the Paperwork Reduction Act.
According to a DOT filing, FMCSA estimates motor carriers spend 5,236,866 hours annually responding to requests for driver information, including their official driving record, during job application and hiring processes – or about 28 minutes per request.
DOT is seeking comments about the current process, and “ways that the burden could be minimized without reducing the quality of the collected information,” according to a public document.
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