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Press Release

U-Haul and Employee Plead Guilty to Felony Violations of the Hazardous Materials Regulations

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – First Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams today announced that U-Haul Company of Pennsylvania and Miguel Rivera, the general manager of U-Haul’s Hunting Park location, pled guilty today to two felony counts of violating hazardous materials regulations.

In July 2014, a propane cylinder attached to a food truck exploded in Philadelphia, killing two people and injuring others. A subsequent investigation revealed that U-Haul Company of Pennsylvania had willfully and recklessly allowed untrained workers to handle propane, a hazardous material, in violation of its statutory obligations. Miguel Rivera aided and abetted the company's violations. As the manager, Rivera was fully trained and certified to handle propane, yet he requested or required the untrained employees to fill propane cylinders for customers, knowing that they had not completed (or even started) training. Over a three-week period seen in surveillance footage, untrained workers filled propane cylinders more than 60 times, in violation of the law and U-Haul Company of Pennsylvania's own policy.

“The hazardous materials regulations exist to protect public safety, and today’s guilty pleas are an important step towards ensuring compliance with those protocols,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Williams.  “We hope that these guilty pleas afford the victims in this tragedy some measure of closure to this long and difficult chapter in their lives.”

The case was investigated by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, with assistance from the Philadelphia Police and the Philadelphia Fire Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Abrams.                                                            

Updated January 29, 2019