A Kentucky woman has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison after courts found that her trucking companies defrauded and extorted their customers and then changed names when customers started to complain.
Melinda Campbell was sentenced last week to four years and eight months in prison after she, her husband Elliott, and Bryan Napier, were convicted on various charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion. She has also been ordered to pay restitution to her former customers.
Trucking Company Mislead Customers, Held Loads Hostage: Court
According to court documents, Campbell’s trucking companies bid on interstate freight hauling jobs online and charged customers higher rates, promising expedited service with a dedicated team of drivers and an ‘exclusive load.’ The Campbells also reportedly promised their clients that they would only require payment after the load was delivered.
However, according to the indictment, “the Campbells would instead consolidate the cargo onto single trailers and use a single driver rather than a dedicated team. And instead of asking for payment post-delivery, the Campbells would instead “threaten not to deliver the cargo freight to its contracted-for destination unless and until the [customer] rendered payment.”
Owners Accused Of Running Chameleon Carrier
When customers started to complain about the scheme, the Campbells would create new trucking companies or use false names to prevent other clients from getting wind of their bad reputation, according to court documents. The names of the trucking companies operated by the Campbells included Interstate Lines Inc., West Coast Trans Inc., and Zink Inc. The Campbells also used aliases to register their companies with the FMCSA.
Elliott and Melinda Campbell also allegedly tried to file an insurance claim for $85,000 for a truck that they said was stolen when in fact they knew that the truck had been abandoned by a disgruntled truck driver and towed.
Napier has already pled guilty and was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.
Elliott Campbell will face sentencing on June 7.