Ten Trucking Execs Indicted in Massive $280 MILLION Pay-to-Play Bribery Scheme
Salt Lake City, UT – Ten trucking company executives have been indicted in what U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officials say is a massive $280 million pay-to-play scheme at the expense of FedEx Ground (FXG).
On Monday, four indictments were unsealed in U.S. District Court alleging nearly a dozen trucking companies paid more than $1 million in bribes to a Utah FXG hub manager, Ryan Lee Mower, age 47, of Bountiful, as a part of a bribery scheme to exploit Mower’s position within FXG to defraud his employer.
According to charging documents, FXG operates approximately 39 hubs or distribution centers to move packages around the country.
Mower worked out of the hub located in North Salt Lake City.
Mower was FXG’s highest-ranking employee in Utah from at least 2008 to October 2019.
His primary responsibilities included overseeing the FXG contract service providers and ensuring that each contracted local trucking company complied with FXG policies and regulations.
One of the four indictments charges five co-conspirators, who own and operate Salt Lake Trucking Group (SLTG), along with Mower, with 16-counts of wire fraud conspiracy, promotional money laundering, and money laundering.
Prosecutors allege SLTG Ground (a division of SLTG) received approximately $150 million in FedEx Ground revenue and paid $300,000 in bribes to Mower over a 10-year conspiracy.
Charged in this indictment are Yevgeny Felix Tuchinsky, age 59, who has resides in Salt Lake City and San Diego, Alexsander Vasiliyevich Barsukov, age 52, of Salt Lake City, Konstantin Mikhaylovich Tomilin, age 50, who has homes in Salt Lake City and Pennsylvania, Leonid Isaakovich Teyf, age 58, of Raleigh, NC, Felix Tsipelzon, age 48, of South Jordan, and Mower.
The indictment alleges the co-conspirators used Mower’s position to game FXG’s process governing the awarding of new runs and that Mower helped the co-conspirators grow their business larger than FXG allowed by submitting false information to FXG.
Further, the co-conspirators allegedly falsified mileage reports and, on occasion, Mower would inflate or boost the number of weekly miles driven by one or more of the co-conspirators’ companies.
Additionally, the trucking companies received payments from FXG for “ghost routes” never actually run by a trucking company, the indictment alleges.
In a second indictment, Hubert Ivan Ugarte, age, 52, of Draper, and Mower are charged with four counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering.
Ugarte owned and operated several trucking companies.
The indictment alleges that by fraudulently obtaining assigned runs, obscuring business ownership and growth, covering up failed contractual performances, and falsely reporting miles to gain unearned income, Ugarte’s companies received approximately $90 million in FXG revenue over the past eight years.
Mower allegedly accepted at least $490,000 in bribes from Ugarte, according to the indictment.
In a third indictment, Davor Kovacevic, age 41, and Zlate Balulovski, age, 41, of West Jordan, and Mower are charged with seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering.
Kovacevic and Balulovski own and operate several trucking companies in Utah.
According to charging documents, around April 2012, Kovacevic and Balulovski began bribing Mower.
As a result of the fraud, the indictment alleges the defendants’ companies received approximately $21,373,873 in FXG net revenue over the past seven and a half years.
Mower allegedly was paid approximately $165,000 in bribes.
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In a fourth indictment, William Shayne Murdock, age 42, of Providence, and Mower are charged with 10-counts of wire fraud, promotional money laundering, concealment money laundering, and money laundering.
Murdock owns several trucking companies in Utah.
Sometime around February 2014, prosecutors say Murdock began paying Mower bribes.
The indictment alleges that Mower allowed Murdock’s trucking companies to operate an unauthorized assigned run from Salt Lake City to Pennsylvania to Memphis for a period of about five years.
Mower should have posted this run as an assigned run so that other contracted service providers could compete for the run, but he did not.
Murdock’s companies received about $19 million in FXG revenue during that period, and Mower was paid at least $50,000, the indictment alleges.
More Trouble For Mower
Mower is also charged with five counts of filing false tax returns.
The charges allege Mower failed to include income in individual income tax returns he filed for several tax years.
For example, in February 2016, he filed a return stating that his adjustable gross income for the 2015 tax year was $112,113, knowing he had received at least $223,088.54 in additional income.
In a return for tax year 2016, he reported income of $111,835 when he knew that he had received at least $348,877.85 in additional income.
In addition to the criminal charges, the United States obtained seizure warrants to deprive the defendants of the profits of their alleged criminal conduct by seizing 25 pieces of real property, 60 bank accounts, investments, cars, boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles, ATVs, trailers, jewelry and firearms.
Items seized during a case are held while the case is litigated.
The potential maximum penalty for wire fraud conspiracy/wire fraud is 20 years in prison.
Promotional money laundering and concealment of money laundering counts each have potential 20-year sentences.
The potential sentence for money laundering is up to 10 years in prison.
Filing a false tax return has a potential maximum sentence of three years per count.
Photos courtesy of FedEx Ground/Salt Lake County Jail
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