Father, Son Sentenced in $1 Million Conspiracy to Steal Trucks and Trailers, Cargo
KANSAS CITY, MO—Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two Kansas City, Mo., area men were sentenced in federal court today for their roles in a 14-year-long conspiracy to steal more than $1 million worth of trucks and trailers and their cargo.
Jon “Dirk” Dickerson, 57, of Raytown, Mo., and his son, Kyle Wayne Dickerson, 32, of Holden, Mo., were sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays. Jon Dickerson was sentenced to 15 years and eight months in federal prison without parole. Kyle Dickerson was sentenced to nine years and two months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered the Dickersons to pay $995,129 in restitution and a forfeiture money judgment of $1,270,089.
Jon and Kyle Dickerson have been in federal custody since the conclusion of a two-week trial on Feb. 28, 2014.
Jon and Kyle Dickerson, along with co-defendant Kenneth Ray Borders, 44, of Kansas City, Mo., were found guilty at trial of participating in a conspiracy that involved the theft of commercial trucks and trailers and their cargo in Missouri, Kansas, Florida, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska from 1998 to December 2013. They worked together to steal trucks, trailers, and cargo and then dispose of them. Sometimes they used the trucks and trailers themselves to make money by hauling loads for customers and sometimes they sold the stolen trucks and trailers.
Eight additional defendants have pleaded guilty and been sentenced.
In addition to the conspiracy, Jon Dickerson was found guilty of three counts of aiding and abetting the possession of stolen goods and one count of aiding and abetting the possession of stolen vehicles. Kyle Dickerson also was found guilty of one count of aiding and abetting the transportation of stolen vehicles, two counts of aiding and abetting the possession of stolen goods and one count of aiding and abetting the possession of stolen vehicles. Borders also was found guilty of four counts of aiding and abetting the possession of stolen goods, one count of aiding and abetting the transportation of stolen goods and one count of aiding and abetting the possession of stolen vehicles.
Borders was sentenced on Dec. 8, 2014, to 21 years and 10 months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Borders to pay $1,270,089 in restitution to 27 victims. Borders’ sentence takes into account his previous criminal history of theft of a truck, trailer and cargo in this district and the District of Nebraska. He also has numerous instances of driving without a license or with a suspended license and was under a criminal sentence for driving while revoked during the conspiracy.
The conspiracy involved the thefts of five Freightliner trucks and 17 trailers between 2005 and 2011. The stolen trailers included refrigerated trailers containing such cargo as 39,000 pounds of meat, 565 boxes of beef valued at $149,790, $125,000 worth of frozen ribs, and several refrigerated trailers that each contained tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of frozen chicken, including a load of frozen chicken wings valued at $59,706. Also stolen were utility trailers containing such cargo as Budweiser beer valued at $16,657, Nike shoes valued at $217,353 and 21,018 pounds of Little Sizzler sausages.
Stolen cargo was sold cheaply to anyone who would buy it. Some of the cargo was sold out of the back of the trailer; some of it was sold to a tow truck driver or a convenience store operator to resell.
Jon Dickerson often had the first right to purchase stolen trucks and trailers. In fact, Borders actually had a “shopping list” from Dickerson listing the trucks and trailers that he wanted, so that Borders could keep an eye out for them and steal them if the opportunity presented itself. Jon Dickerson had Borders steal vehicles to provide him with a supply of replacement parts for his trucks. For example, if an engine failed on one of Jon Dickerson’s trucks, he would have Borders steal a truck with a similar engine to replace it.
Jon and Kyle Dickerson also were involved in stealing trucks and trailers. They used them in their own trucking business, sometimes just for replacement parts with the remains sold for scrap. Kyle Dickerson had the tools, ability, and willingness to disguise the stolen nature of the trucks and trailers by altering their Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) so that they could be used in their trucking business without alerting authorities when they were stopped or inspected.
The Dickersons reduced their costs of doing business by stealing trucks and trailers themselves, or by buying stolen trucks and trailers from Borders, at a fraction of their fair market value. Since they had little financial investment in the stolen trucks and trailers, and knew that they had a readily-available and cheap supply of stolen trucks and trailers, they had little incentive to maintain and repair their fleet. As a result, their fleet wore out and had safety issues, such as problems with brakes and tires. When their fleet wore out, they simply replaced them with more stolen trucks and trailers.
The Dickersons did not bother to maintain and repair their trucks and trailers but continued to operate them in interstate commerce. As a result, the Department of Transportion (DOT) and other law enforcement repeatedly cited their company and drivers for failing inspections and violating regulations. The company’s compliance reviews led to unsatisfactory safety ratings which led to a total of $450,000 in fines and numerous “out of service orders” directing them to cease operating in interstate commerce. The Dickersons just ignored the orders and the fines.
The abuse in the trucking industry not only impacts public commerce, the government charges, but also public safety. While the thefts themselves were egregious, the Dickersons’ audacious use of worn-out vehicles and not maintaining equipment such as brakes puts the public’s safety at considerable risk.
At a DOT roadside inspection, a Dickerson truck, trailer, or cargo could be delayed, or even impounded, if their poor record or condition prompted too many questions. The Dickersons’ scheme, however, included a way to downplay this risk. The Dickersons operated what is known in the industry as “chameleon carriers.” They simply abandoned their old company—along with its “baggage” of safety violations, “out of service” orders, and unpaid fines—and began operating with a new company under a new name. Thus, after Jon Dickerson’s company Fish and More was subject to more than $150,000 in fines and four orders to cease interstate transportation, he began operating under the name D&T Trucking. After D&T Trucking was subject to nearly $300,000 in fines and 17 orders to cease interstate transportation, the United States obtained a civil injunction and default judgment, and D&T Trucking was permanently enjoined from operating in interstate commerce. At that point, Kyle Dickerson got a DOT number for Night Line Trucking and Repair. Night Line Trucking and Repair received an unsatisfactory safety rating and an order to cease interstate transportation. The Dickersons then started operating under the name Nightline Trucking, LLC.
Beyond the direct losses to their victims, the Dickersons’ actions had significant impact on the trucking industry and its regulatory system. Their business morphed through four versions over 14 years—Fish and More, D&T Trucking, Night Line Trucking and Repair, and Nightline Trucking, LLC.—in an effort to avoid DOT sanctions for faulty or failed equipment that would have shut down the businesses. These business practices resulted in hundreds of vehicle stops and inspections which taxed various arms of the DOT and parallel state agencies and created extensive and expensive legal processes. The Dickersons, using their knowledge of the trucking regulations, took advantage of slow reporting and lack of federal-state consolidated record keeping to exploit the system until finally the extreme measure of an Out of Service and Record Consolidation Order was issued on July 29, 2013, putting their last company officially out of business.
This case was prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Gregg R. Coonrod and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cindi S. Woolery. It was investigated by the Department of Agriculture—Office of Inspector General, the FBI, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the National White Collar Crime Center, the Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center, Travelers Investigative Services, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Florida State Highway Patrol, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.