Operators of Charter Bus Company Plead Guilty to Bribing Federal Safety Inspector
BOSTON – The owner and safety manager of a charter bus company operating in Massachusetts pleaded guilty today to bribing a federal safety investigator in order to influence the safety review of the passenger buses.
Le Wen Wu, 49, and Yat Kuen Chan, a/k/a “Andy,” 41, both of Quincy, each pleaded guilty to one count conspiracy to pay an unlawful gratuity and to bribe a public official, one count of unlawful gratuities to a public official, and one count of bribery of a public official. U.S. Senior District Court Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. scheduled sentencing for Jan. 9, 2020. Wu and Chan were charged in November and September 2018, respectively.
L&W Travel Inc. was a passenger bus charter company purportedly located on Cambridge Street in Boston. Wu was the owner, president, treasurer, secretary, vice president and director of L&W, and Chan acted as the safety manager. In January 2018, L&W applied to register as a charter bus company with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, establishes and enforces safe operating requirements for motor carriers, including mandatory safety audits within the first year of operation.
On multiple occasions in July and August 2018, during a safety audit of L&W, Wu and Chan gave a total of $2,800 in cash to an FMCSA safety investigator to influence the investigator’s compliance review and safety audit of L&W. For example, on Aug. 1, 2018 Chan gave the investigator $600 so that the investigator would not place an L&W bus immediately out of service based on two significant safety violations – inadequate brakes and a defective emergency exit door – but rather, would allow L&W to fix the brakes in Massachusetts and drive the bus to New Jersey for repair of the door.
The charge of conspiracy to pay unlawful gratuity and to bribe a public official provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of unlawful gratuities to a public official provides for a sentence of no greater than two years in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of bribery of public officials provides for a sentence of no greater than 15 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Douglas Shoemaker, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General; and Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristina Barclay of Lelling’s Public Corruption and Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting the case.