The owner of several Inland Empire-based trucking companies was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison for ordering the illegal repair of a tanker that resulted in a fatal explosion accident that killed one worker and seriously injured another, marking the second time when one of his welders was fatally injured. According to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Carl Bradley Johansson, 64, of Newport Beach was also sentenced for tax evasion and fraudulently obtaining about $954,417 in COVID relief money while free on bond in the tanker explosion case.
In September 2021, Johansson pleaded guilty to two felony counts in relation to the tank explosion including one count of conspiring to make illegal repairs on cargo tanks and to defraud the U.S. Department of transportation, and one count of welding without the required certifications, officials said.
Representing Injured Workers and Their Families
The Los Angeles woman-owned work injury law firm of Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC commends the Deputy U.S. Attorney for successfully prosecuting this case and holding those responsible for this tragic and unnecessary explosion accountable. We had the honor of representing the workers who were killed and injured in this horrific explosion as well as their families in their civil lawsuit, through which we were able to secure fair compensation for them. We were also pleased to have been able to assist DOJ officials by providing them with all of our deposition transcripts.
"My team and I are so glad and relieved that justice prevailed in the criminal trial against this company whose administrators wronged their employees by circumventing safety regulations and so blatantly violating workplace safety," said Emily Ruby, the law firm's owner. "Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for their employees. This is a case where an employer violated that obligation, and his workers and their families paid the price."
Violations of the Law
DOJ officials say on May 6, 2014, Johansson's company, National Distribution Services Inc. (NDSI), ordered workers to do welding work on a tanker that had not been fully cleaned of the crude oil inside it. This resulted in the fatal explosion that caused the wrongful death accident. Officials say for the next four years, Johansson and other employees of the company "conspired to obstruct a federal investigation into the explosion by making multiple false statements to local, state and federal officials" to hide the fact that NDSI had conducted illegal welding repairs and that the deceased and injured employees worked for him.
DOJ officials say that on the day of the fatal explosion, when investigators arrived at the company, Johansson identified himself as a customer service representative with another company and told them that the welders were employed by an outside tank-repair company. In addition, Johansson and NDSI submitted false statements to federal regulators to have an Out-of-Service order rescinded. That order prohibited the company from operating about 37 tanks to haul gasoline or ethanol because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had determined that they posed safety risks.
To circumvent that order Johansson converted NDSI to operate under a different name to evade regulators. As part of this case, Johansson's shop manager Enrique Garcia pleaded guilty to one count of welding without the required certifications. Also, Donald Cameron Spicer, Johansson's safety manager, pleaded guilty to conspiring to make illegal repairs on the cargo tanks. Both are facing federal prison sentences.