The owner of a small Rhode Island trucking firm that is now defunct pleaded guilty last week to tampering with data from the company’s automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) and submitting false information from them to investigators.
Damir Sisic was the owner of Sisic Transport Service (STS) of Woonsocket. Under the terms of the deal, Sisic is pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to falsify records. He will pay a $50,000 fine and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. However, the charge in question carries a maximum fine of $250,000, so what he is paying is 20% of the maximum.
According to the plea agreement, the U.S. attorney for Rhode Island will recommend a jail sentence at the “low end of the guideline range.”
The submission of the false data was connected with a government investigation of an April 22, 2018, involving an STS truck and driver killed in Oklahoma. According to a prepared statement released by the U.S. attorney, Sisic’s company owned “approximately” 11 tractors and 10 trailers and had a normal work force of between seven and 10 drivers.
“Sisic admitted that he accessed and altered … data on thousands of occasions,” the prepared statement said. “He admitted that he routinely concealed from the Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that his drivers were routinely exceeding the maximum number of driving hours and on-duty hours without the required off-duty hours, in violation of the federal law.”
The document spelling out the charges against Sisic said STS had bought Omnitracs AOBRDs in October 2017. While AOBRDs were grandfathered in for acceptable use until near the end of 2019, the date that STS acquired the AOBRDs was just about two months before the deadline for installing new ones.
As the original charge against Sisic notes, “the AOBRD application allows a company official with edit rights in the online system to log in and change any portion of a driver’s hours of service record or electronic log.”
And according to the U.S. attorney, Sisic took advantage of that. From the start of 2018 through May of last year, Sisic and other unidentified people got together to “knowingly alter, conceal, cover up and falsify a record or document, namely STS drivers’ hours-of-service (HOS) electronic logs,” with the goal of impeding the ongoing investigation.
The flouting of the HOS rules wasn’t just in recordkeeping. Sisic also “willfully dispatched the company’s commercial truck drivers on trips which (he) knew required excessive hours of driving time and excessive hours of on-duty time.”
According to court documents, one driver texted Sisic to say he only had 1:51 hours left to drive in on April 19, 2018. Sisic’s response was: “I fixed you got 5 hours just update hopefully it’s enough.”
Sentencing is set for Jan. 7.