May 23, 2019

Trucking firm owner sentenced

PORTLAND — The owner of an Oxford trucking company that admitted making phony drug test reports and bogus driver logs was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to a year and a day in prison.

Neal Cohen, president and sole shareholder of Neal B. Cohen Trucking Inc., pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion and one count of conspiring to create false medical records for his drivers. His company also admitted aiding and abetting the creation of false driver logs.

In addition to his prison sentence, Cohen was ordered to serve a year of probation after his release, and his company was fined $15,000.

He also must pay more than $90,000 in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Dilworth said Tuesday that the sentence and penalties are severe enough to be a significant deterrent to others in the trucking industry who may be tempted to violate federal laws.

“As a result of this conduct, he’s going to spend a year in jail. His business is defunct. And he has to pay all the money back in taxes, plus penalties and interest. Plus, he has to pay a fine on top of that,” he said.

Cohen, 44, apologized in federal court Tuesday, saying his actions were costly both to his business and to his family.

Cohen, whose multimillion-dollar company had more than 25 employees, went out of business after he pleaded guilty because his customers stopped doing business with him and his insurer stopped insuring the company.

Prosecutors said Cohen created and maintained false driver logs and created at least 65 counterfeit drug-testing reports, as well as counterfeit medical certificates for his drivers.

Cohen also paid some of his employees under the table between 1993 and 1997, prosecutors said. In all, he paid approximately $600,000 in salaries that were not reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

Two other employees pleaded guilty earlier to other charges that came out of the investigation.

Warren Morrell was sentenced to four months in jail and four months of house arrest after pleading guilty to four counts of tax evasion and one count of conspiring to make false driver’s logs.

Jerome P. Lizotte Jr. received the same sentence after pleading guilty to three counts of tax evasion, one count of bankruptcy fraud, one count of mail fraud and one count of making false driver’s logs.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the U.S Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General, said U.S. Attorney Jay McCloskey.

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