Federal prosecutors say several Utah trucking companies paid more than $1 million to the manager of a FedEx Ground hub there as part of an alleged bribery scheme to exploit the manager’s position.
Ten individuals are charged in a series of four indictments in connection with the alleged bribery scheme, which were unsealed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
According to court documents, Ryan Lee Mower, 47, of Bountiful, was FedEx Ground’s highest-ranking employee in Utah from at least 2008 to October 2019. He worked for the hub in North Salt Lake City. His primary responsibilities included overseeing the contract service providers and ensuring that each local trucking company complied with FedEx Ground policies and regulations. He is charged in all four indictments connected with the alleged bribery scheme as well as in a separate filing accusing him of five counts of filing a false income tax return.
U.S. v Tuchinsky, Mower, et al
Six individuals are charged in one indictment with 16-counts of wire fraud conspiracy, promotional money laundering, and money laundering in connection with a 10-year conspiracy the indictment alleges started in 2009.
Charged in this indictment: Yevgeny Felix Tuchinsky, 59, who has residences in Salt Lake City and San Diego; Alexsander Vasiliyevich Barsukov, 52, of Salt Lake City; Konstantin Mikhaylovich Tomilin, 50, who has homes in Salt Lake City and Pennsylvania; Leonid Isaakovich Teyf, 58, of Raleigh, N.C.; Felix Tsipelzon, 48, of South Jordan; and Mower.
Prosecutors say the five defendants other than Mower were involved in some way with Salt Lake Trucking Group, comprised of several trucking companies that contract to carry packages for FedEx Ground.
The indictment alleges the alleged bribery scheme co-conspirators used Mower’s position to game FedEx’s process governing the awarding of new runs and that Mower helped the co-conspirators grow their business larger than allowed by submitting false information to FedEx. Using Mower’s position, the co-conspirators 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 for “ghost routes” never actually run by a trucking company, the indictment alleges.
The Salt Lake Trucking Group received about $150 million in revenue during the approximate 10-year period of the conspiracy. During that same period, the indictment alleges the co-conspirators paid approximately $300,000 in bribes to Mower.
U.S. v Ugarte and Mower
Hubert Ivan Ugarte, 52, of Draper and Mower are charged with four counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering in connection with the alleged bribery scheme. 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 FedEx revenue over the past eight years and paid Mower at least $490,000 in bribes, according to the indictment.
U.S. v Kovacevic, Mower, et al
Davor Kovacevic, 41, and Zlate Balulovski, 41, of West Jordan, and Mower are charged with seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering in an indictment alleging that around April 2012 Kovacevic and Balulovski began bribing Mower. In exchange, Kovacevic and Balulovski asked for and received favors, preferential treatment, and assistance in defrauding FedEx Ground. Kovacevic and Balulovski own and operate several trucking companies in Utah.
According to the indictment, the defendants used Mower’s position to game FedEx Ground’s process governing the awarding of new truck routes to contract service providers, to falsify or boost mileage reports so that FedEx paid the defendants’ companies more than they were entitled to, and to receive payments for “ghost routes” or runs never actually run by a trucking company.
As a result of the fraud, the indictment alleges the defendants’ companies received approximately $21,373,873 in net revenue over the past seven and a half years and paid Mower approximately $165,000 in bribe payments.
U.S. v Murdock and Mower
William Shayne Murdock, 42, of Providence, and Mower are charged in a 10-count indictment with wire fraud, promotional money laundering, concealment money laundering, and money laundering. Murdock owns several trucking companies in Utah. Sometime around February 2014, Murdock began paying Mower bribes. In exchange, Murdock asked for and received favors and assistance in defrauding FedEx Ground, according to the indictment.
The release states that at some time in 2014, one of Murdock’s trucking companies was awarded a FedEx freight run from Salt Lake City to Pennsylvania to Memphis, Tenn. The indictment alleges Mower determined that based on FedEx policies, he should have posted this run so that other contracted service providers could compete for the run. Instead he allowed Murdock trucking companies to operate the unauthorized assigned run for about five years.
By fraudulently obtaining assigned runs, obscuring business ownership and growth, and falsely reporting miles to gain unearned income, Murdock’s companies allegedly received about $19 million in revenue over the past five years. During that period, Murdock paid bribes to Mower of at least $50,000.
U.S. v Mower
Mower also is charged with five counts of filing false tax returns in connection with the alleged bribery scheme. In addition to the criminal charges, the government 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. The 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.
Other bribery schemes in recent Land Line Media news
This was far from the only bribery case covered by Land Line Media this fall.
In September, a former California Department of Motor Vehicles employee was recently sentenced for his role in a fraudulent CDL scheme, according to court documents.
In another case, an Alabama-based CDL training academy owner has been indicted for his role in falsifying U.S. Department of Transportation exams.