The owners of defunct Westfield Transport Inc. of West Springfield, Massachusetts, were indicted on federal charges of falsifying driving logs, on Friday. One of its former drivers, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 24, of West Springfield, is accused of killing seven motorcyclists and injuring seven others in Randolph, New Hampshire, on June 21, 2019.
Dunyadar (Damien) Gasanov, 36, was indicted on one count of falsification of records, one count of conspiracy to falsify and one count of making a false statement to a federal investigator. He is still wanted by investigators. According to records from the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Office, he is listed as the supervisor of Westfield Transport.
His brother, Dartanayan Gasanov, 35, who was arrested Friday, was charged with one count of falsification of records. He is listed as the president, treasurer, secretary and director of the shuttered company, according to Westfield Transport’s business filings with the state agency.
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According to the indictment, from May 3, 2019 to June 23, 2019, the owners of Westfield Transport falsified driving logs “in order to evade federal regulations designed to ensure the safety of roadways and drivers.”
The indictment further alleges that Dunyadar Gasanov instructed at least one Westfield Transport employee to falsify records to exceed the number of permissible driving hours. He then “made a false statement to a federal inspector regarding the manipulation of recording devices that track drivers’ on and off duty hours in order to evade regulations,” according to federal prosecutors.
NTSB issues report into Westfield Transport crash
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent agency called in to investigate the fatal crash, claims in its report that Westfield Transport’s owners tried to add Zhukovskyy to its insurance policy an hour after the driver was involved in the fatal crash.
Zhukovskyy was charged with multiple counts of negligent homicide and is currently in prison, awaiting trial in New Hampshire. Investigators assert that Westfield Transport failed to check Zhukovskyy’s driving record before hiring him. According to the NTSB report, Zhukovskyy admitted to using heroin and cocaine on the day of the fatal crash.
The NTSB report also asserts that Westfield Transport managers and drivers “routinely tampered with electronic logging devices and falsified hours-of-service logs.” The NTSB report called for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to remove KeepTruckin devices from its list of approved vendors.
KeepTruckin claims that Westfield Transport used its automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs), not its electronic logging devices (ELDs). The NTSB asserts in its final report that carriers are able to tamper with and “falsify” hours-of-service logs. However, investigators confirmed that on the day of the fatal crash, Zhukovskky was using paper logs because the KeepTruckin technology in his truck was not functional or not working. KeepTruckin told FreightWaves that it didn’t have an account listed for Zhukovskky as he had only started driving for Westfield Transport two days before the fatal crash.
The NTSB is also investigating another fatal crash involving a KeepTruckin device after a tractor-trailer crossed the median and struck a motorcoach in New Mexico, killing eight people, on Aug. 30, 2018. Investigators found that the commercial driver had “falsified the HOS logs” on the day of the crash and had doctored his logs in the days leading up to that fateful day.
Although the NTSB report into the New Mexico crash hasn’t been finalized, investigators discovered other drivers working for the same carrier also falsified their logs to drive longer hours using KeepTruckin technology.
KeepTruckin disputes NTSB’s call to remove its devices
KeepTruckin recently filed a petition with the NTSB, calling the investigation’s findings “demonstrably false and misleading” and urged the federal agency to rescind its recommendation to FMCSA to shelve all KeepTruckin devices until the company “has demonstrated compliance with federal regulations.”
In fact, FMCSA has never revoked a provider from its approved vendor list as ELD providers self-certify that their devices meet the agency’s technical requirements. The vendors on FMCSA’s revoked list removed their own devices from the approved list of ELD providers.
KeepTruckin, which has placed on FreightWaves’ FreightTech 25 list for three straight years, disputes the NTSB findings that its devices are not compliant with federal regulations. The company claims investigators conflated the carrier’s use of KeepTruckin’s AOBRD with KeepTruckin’s ELD system — two different technologies operated under different sets of rules, Travis Baskin, head of regulatory affairs of KeepTruckin, told FreightWaves.
“The NTSB report suggests that the KeepTruckin ELD didn’t record a malfunction code for the location discrepancy when Westfield Transport disconnected their smartphones from the ELD in an attempt to falsify their logs,” Baskin told FreightWaves. “FMCSA doesn’t require that the ELD record a malfunction event when no mobile device is connected or when a driver is not logged into an ELD.”
On March 16, 2021, Meera Joshi, acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, sent a response to the NTSB stating that the FMCSA has reviewed its investigation records regarding Westfield Transport and that the motor carrier was using KeepTruckin devices as AOBRDs rather than ELDs.
The response concluded that, “FMCSA’s regulations provide a process to remove an ELD Model or version from the list of ELDs on the FMCSA website. FMCSA is not able to initiate a proceeding to remove an ELD from FMCSA’s list based only on evidence that the device, when used as an AOBRD, did not meet the requirements for an ELD. FMCSA requests that NTSB close safety recommendation H-20-035.”