A former executive of a Florida-based trucking company pleaded guilty in federal court on June 12 to two counts of wire fraud related to mail contracts it had with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
Alexei Rivero, 46, of Miami, Florida, served as vice president of Florida Carrier & Brokerage Service Inc., known as Florida Carrier, from March 2011 to September 2013. During that time, Rivero facilitated 22 contracts to haul mail for the USPS.
Court documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleged that Rivero misappropriated and diverted approximately $2.7 million “for his personal use and benefit and to further the scheme to defraud.”
According to the terms of the USPS contract with Florida Carrier, it was to pay its employee drivers prevailing wage and fringe benefits, including health insurance, vacation and holiday pay, as part of the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA). Also included in the contract was that Florida Carrier would pay payroll taxes for Social Security, worker’s compensation, as well as federal and state unemployment taxes.
Instead, court documents allege that Rivero purposefully misclassified the drivers as independent contractors and did not provide them with W-2s, a violation of the terms of the contract agreement with the postal service.
The USPS paid approximately $1.5 million to Florida Carrier for employees’ fringe benefits and around $1.2 million for drivers’ payroll taxes, but those funds were allegedly never passed on to the misclassified drivers.
“[The] guilty plea reflects the importance and impact of our continuing efforts to protect the rights of workers hired to perform services under government contracts,” said U.S. Attorney Arian Fajardo Orshan in a statement. “Those who engage in deceptive and fraudulent behavior fueled by greed with continue to be investigated and prosecuted in a federal court of law.”
Rivero is scheduled to be sentenced on August 23. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
The case was jointly investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the USPS Office of Inspector General.
“The USPS OIG will continue to aggressively investigate those who would engage in fraudulent activities designed to defraud the Postal Service,” said Steven Stuller, deputy special agent in charge of the USPS OIG, in a statement.