A Newport Beach man who owns several Inland Empire trucking companies was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison for ordering a welder to illegally repair a tanker that caused an explosion that killed the worker .
The conviction marked the second time Carl Bradley Johansson had been criminally held responsible for the death of one of his welders. Johansson, now 64, was also convicted on Tuesday of tax evasion and fraudulently obtaining nearly $1 million in COVID aid funds while he was on bail in the tanker eviction case, according to a statement by US prosecutors.
Johansson, now 64, pleaded guilty last year to multiple counts related to the deadly tank explosion, tax evasion and aid money fraud. In addition to the decades-long prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips Johansson ordered approximately $1.25 million in compensation to be paid to two banks and the IRS.
A previous tanker explosion that resulted in the death of a worker in 1993 resulted in Johansson being sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Prosecutors allege that after his release from prison, Johansson set up a Corona-based trucking company called National Distribution Services to “illegally operate cargo tanks” despite two other “sweat-related explosions” in 2012 and 2014.
On May 6, 2014, prosecutors said management at the trucking company ordered workers to carry out welding work on a tanker that still contained crude oil that had not been fully cleaned. The resulting explosion killed a welder and seriously injured a second worker.
Prosecutors allege that over the next four years, Johansson and other transportation company employees tried repeatedly to prevent a federal investigation into the deadly blast. Johansson and employees tried to hide the facts that the company was conducting illegal weld repairs, that Johansson still owned the companies despite his previous conviction, and that the dead and injured welders worked for Johansson, prosecutors said.
On the day of the actual blast, Johansson reportedly told investigators he was a customer service representative for another company and falsely claimed that the welders hit by the blast worked for an outside tank repair company.
Later, in an attempt to overturn a federal order known as the “decommissioning” — which banned his company from operating several dozen cargo tanks transporting gasoline or ethanol — Johansson allegedly lied under oath in an affidavit in which he claimed his company had never engaged in tank repairs. To circumvent the out-of-service order and bypass regulators, Johansson began operating under a new company name – Wholesale Distribution – with the same employees and management from the same warehouse.
At the same time, prosecutors say Johansson failed to report more than $1 million in revenue from the trucking companies to avoid paying nearly $300,000 in federal income taxes over six years. He reportedly used that money for personal expenses, including renting a house in Corona and paying tuition at his children’s private high schools and universities.
After being charged in connection with the blast, Johansson was released on bail.
While awaiting trial, prosecutors said Johansson directed another trucking company he owned — Western Distribution in Ontario — to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan as part of the federal government’s effort to help businesses protect employees during the hold coronavirus pandemic.
Johansson had Western Distribution immediately disburse the PPP loans while the company’s employees were laid off and eventually reinstated. Federal prosecutors estimate that Johansson was responsible for nearly $1 million in fraud related to the COVID relief funds.
Judge Phillips on Tuesday also placed two of Johansson’s companies – National Distribution Services and Wholesale Distribution – on probation and ordered them to pay more than $650,000 in damages.
Some of Johansson’s employees have previously accepted pleadings.
Enrique Garcia, 48, of Pomona, who served as Johansson’s operations manager, admitted without welding the necessary certifications and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Donald Cameron Spicer, 71, of Fullerton, who served as Johansson’s security manager, has pleaded guilty to illegal repairs to the cargo tanks and defrauding the government and is awaiting conviction.
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/11/29/oc-trucking-firm-owner-gets-prison-time-for-fatal-tanker-explosion-in-corona-tax-evasion-and-covid-relief-fraud/ OC trucking company owner jailed for deadly Corona tanker explosion, tax evasion and COVID aid fraud – Orange County Register