Trucking execs avoid jail time for harassing drivers to violate Hours of Service regulations

This week, a federal judge sentenced four executives from a Virginia trucking company accused of forcing their drivers into gross hours of service violations — and all four managed to avoid any jail time.

Gerald Beam, Garland Beam, Shaun Beam, Nickolas Kozel of the now-shuttered Beam Brothers Trucking all pled guilty in May 2017 to federal charges of conspiracy against the United States and violation of FMCSA regulations.

The company had at one time been contracted to haul U.S. mail.

All four of the former executives managed to avoid any jail time when the sentences were handed down this week. Gerald and Garland Beam were sentenced to six months of home confinement followed by three years of probation and a $5000 fine. Shaun Beam and Kozel were both sentenced to three months of home confinement and three years of probation along with a $2000 fine. Gerald and Garland Beam had been facing up to a year in prison.

Beam Brothers was also sentenced to forfeit $2 million of money obtained through fraud and to pay a $250,000 fine. They must also pay $1 million in restitution to their drivers.

Federal prosecutors say that they were disappointed by the light sentencing. They had hoped a harsher sentence would send a strong message to other trucking companies that engage in similar driver harassment practices.

Before the sentences were handed down, company owner Gerald Beam told the court “We knew what the laws were, and we know what we did was wrong.

Former Beam Brothers Drivers Make Startling Claims About Forced HOS Violations

The sentencing comes after a 2013 federal raid on the Beam Brothers headquarters which resulted in a federal indictment of 126 felony counts related to truck driver hours of service violations. In May 2017, the former executives struck a deal with prosecutors in order to plead guilty to reduced charges.

Before the sentencing, testimony from several former Beam Brothers drivers regarding the mistreatment that they suffered at the hands of their one-time employer was presented before the judge.

One driver said that the pressure to fight fatigue to complete illegally scheduled routes was so intense that he took bath salts every few hours to stay awake. After months of drug abuse, he suffered from a medical emergency.

During the 2013 raid, one driver talked about how the company forced drivers to falsify their log books. He said that a supervisor told him that “he needed to falsify his logbooks in order to receive his paycheck, meaning if he drove over the 11 hour rule, he had to make a new logbook and manipulate it to reflect 11 hours of driving. The witness recalled a specific occasion when his paycheck was not direct deposited into his bank account. One or two days later, he received a letter from Bean Brothers Trucking management at his residence, which stated he needed to falsify his logs in order to be paid…the witness stated that after he was involved in an accident, he called a supervisor and told him he was over his hours.  The supervisor instructed him to falsify his logbook.

Another driver told federal investigators that he had to “drive like a maniac” to get his job done.

The investigation into Beam Brothers involved numerous federal agencies including the IRS Criminal Investigations division, the Department of Labor, the USPS, and the Department of Transportation.