LOS ANGELES – Five men, including the owner of two Inland Empire trucking companies and two employees, were indicted as a result of the illegal repair of gasoline cargo tanks one which exploded killing a welder and severely injuring a second worker in 2014.
The federal grand jury returned the four-count indictment filed on Wednesday afternoon, charging two Inland Empire trucking companies for ignoring the federal transportation laws leading to the fatal explosion. The federal indictment also alleges that those indicted helped to rename the company after federal regulators ordered it to take its cargo tanks off of the road. Carl Bradley “Brad” Johansson, 59, of Corona, the owner of the trucking companies, Enrique “Henry” Garcia, 43, of Pomona, the shop manager, who supervised the welders who illegally repaired cargo tankers, and Donald Cameron Spicer, 66, of Fullerton, who was the safety manager of the companies. The indictment charges Johansson’s Corona-based companies, National Distribution Services, Inc. (NDSI), which operated from about 2009 through 2015, and NDSI’s successor company, Wholesale Distribution, Inc. (WDI), which does business as Quality Services. The federal indictment alleges that WDI was created to take over NDSI’s operations in order to continue operations in order to continue to operate cargo tanks that were ordered out of service officials said.
Five defendants, which include the two companies, are all charged with planning and conducting the scheme to illegally repair the tanks used to transport gasoline. The indicted allegedly did in-house repairs on at least half a dozen cargo tanks despite the lack of certification to conduct such repairs. “Johansson and Garcia on May 5, 2014, discussed directing two NDSI workers to conduct welding on a cargo tank,” said U.S. Department of Justice officials. “The following day, Garcia issued the orders to the employees, even after one of the welders told Garcia that it was not safe, according to the indictment. The two workers began a welding project on the cargo tank, which caused an explosion that killed one worker and seriously injured the man who had warned Garcia.”
Johansson allegedly fraudulently identified himself to investigators as a customer service representative with a different company and said the welders were from an outside company. Several months following the death and injury, in August 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an imminent hazard order – commonly called an “Out-of-Service Order” – to NDSI, which prohibited the company from operating approximately 37 cargo tanks to haul gasoline or ethanol. Johansson ignored the order and continued to use the tankers. “Johansson and NDSI allegedly submitted false statements to the FMCSA in an attempt to have the Out-of-Service Order rescinded by the agency,” U.S. Department of Justice officials said. “ The indictment alleges that Johansson signed, under oath, an affidavit that falsely claimed NDSI had never engaged in tank repairs and that Garcia worked for an outside tank-repair company.”
At the end of 2014, is when Johansson attempted to convert NDSI’s operations to the WDI name. After the operations were switched from one company name to another, Spicer filed documents to conceal the fact that it was the same business operating under a new name in order to violate the FMCSA’s Out-of-Service Order. In addition to being charged with conspiring to violate federal law by causing illegal repairs to be conducted on the cargo tanks and defrauding the United States Department of Transportation, Johansson, Garcia, and NDSI, are all also facing one count of welding without the required certifications. Johansson is also facing one count of making a false statement to the Department of Transportation telling investigators that he was not part of a discussion with Garcia about the repairs prior to the explosion. Spicer also faces charges of making false statements failing to disclose the two linked companies.
Garcia was arrested on April 9, 2018, as he attempted to cross the international border in San Diego County as a result of the filing of criminal complaints earlier in the month. Johansson was arrested the following day at his business and Spicer, was taken into custody on April 11, 2018. The illegal welding count carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The other counts carry a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Spicer is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment on May 9 in United States District Court in Riverside, and Johansson’s arraignment is scheduled for May 16. Garcia’s arraignment has not yet been scheduled.
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This article was written by a staff member of the 24/7 Headline News Organization
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