It’s still relatively rare for safety infractions to result in criminal charges. The exception often involves making false statements to the government, as is the case here.
Yu Hua Mei, a former safety manager, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, PA, admitting she made false statements on federally required commercial carrier forms, including statements about vehicle safety.
Mei was indicted in February 2016, along with 13 others, for her role in a multi-state scheme to fraudulently operate commercial bus companies.
The indictment alleged that the 14 individuals routinely falsified Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports and applications for several bus companies including All-State Travel Bus, Asia Tours, Apex Bus, New Egg Bus and Universe Bus. Authorities say those involved concealed that the buses they operated were unsafe.
Mei admitted she and others incorporated the bus companies in Pennsylvania when they’d been operating in New York City. The false documents enabled the companies to obtain operating authority and licenses, as well as significantly reduce their insurance costs.
The indictment claimed the bus company operators falsified FMCSA records related to bus safety, maintenance and driver qualifications to impede federal inspections and reviews. The operators claimed the companies had driver safety and training programs in place when they didn’t. Crash, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and drug and alcohol testing documents were also falsified.
Conspiracy to defraud carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The indictment included forfeiture of assets totaling $7,731,019 in the event of conviction.
Charges in connection with running the bus companies were part of an ongoing investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) and other government agencies. The investigation resulted in charges against eight people in the State College, PA, area who recruited, placed, harbored, concealed and transported immigrants who were unauthorized to work via commercial buses and vans to restaurants where they would work.
Others charged in this case also pleaded guilty previously.