Corona

Gas Hauler Sentenced for Safety Violations, Tax and COVID Loan Fraud After Employees Killed in Explosions

Corona trucking company owner ordered to serve 10 years in federal custody after illegal repairs and unsafe conditions blamed for deadly explosion that took the life of an employee

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The owner of several trucking companies accused of violating federal safety laws was sentenced this week to 10 years in prison following a lengthy investigation that began after the 2014 death of an employee in a welding explosion.

Carl Bradley Johansson, who was living in Newport Beach, was also ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to the U.S. Government after he admitted to tax evasion and a loan fraud scheme.

Johansson's defense attorney in Torrance did not immediately return a call for comment.

Prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's Office said Johansson and two employees conspired to interfere with a federal safety investigation into the 2014 explosion, and changed company names, ownership records, and other documents to try to conceal his continued management of the businesses.

"We also charged him with a wide ranging conspiracy, for running these corrupt companies, as well as tax evasion," Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew O'Brien told NBCLA.

"So while the regulations that he violated in terms of the federal welding laws are, are somewhat obscure, it's a it's a crime to violate those in a knowing manner, which is what we alleged and what the district court found," O'Brien said.

While Johansson was out on bond awaiting trial on the safety violation case, federal officials say he made false statements on applications for PPP loans offered during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Johansson pleaded guilty in 2021 to a variety of charges, including conspiring to make illegal repairs and defraud the U.S. Department of Transportation, welding without a required certification, tax evasion, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and bank fraud.

Prior to the 2014 investigation Johansson was sentenced to 15-months in prison for hazardous materials violations after another employee welder was killed at a truck yard in Montebello in 1993.

Federal agents served a search warrant at Johansson's yard in Corona in 2018 as the safety enforcement case turned into a criminal investigation.

The U.S. Department of Transportation said in court filings the illegal repairs to gasoline-hauling trailers not only endangered Johansson's employees but virtually every motorist who shared the roadway with the trucks, as any one of them was far more likely to be involved in an accident.

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