Newport Beach Businessman Gets 10 Years for Tanker Explosion, Fraud

The 2014 tragedy resulted in the death of one employee and uncovered millions in tax evasion and Covid-relief fraud

Carl Bradley Johansson, the 64 year-old owner of several Inland Empire-based trucking companies, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Tuesday for ordering the illegal repair of a tanker that resulted in the death of one of his employees in 2014. Johansson was also sentenced for tax evasion and for fraudulently obtaining close to a million dollars in Covid-relief money and was ordered to pay over a million dollars in restitution to two banks and the U.S. government. 

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California, the explosion occurred in May 2014 when Johansson’s company, National Distribution Services Inc., ordered workers to complete welding work on a tanker that hadn’t been fully cleaned of crude oil. The resulting explosion killed one employee and severely injured a second. Before this incident, Johansson previously served a 15-month federal prison sentence after another one of his welders was killed in a separate explosion in 1993. 

Embroiled in federal investigations following the 2014 explosion, Johansson and several employees made multiple false statements in attempts to bury evidence of the illegal welding repairs Johansson had ordered, according to prosecutors. He also continued using prohibited cargo tanks to haul gasoline and ethanol despite an Out-of-Service Order issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration after finding his cargo tanks posed a serious safety risk.

To top it all off, Johansson failed to disclose over a million dollars in income to the federal government and participated in an intricate Covid-relief fraud scheme leading to a loss of $954,417. 

After seeing to Johansson’s sentencing, Judge Virginia A. Phillips also sentenced his two companies to one year of probation. Several of Johansson’s employees also faced charges.

Johansson’s shop manager, 48 year-old Enrique Garcia, pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of welding without required certifications and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. Donald Cameron Spicer, 71, Johansson’s safety manager, pleaded guilty to conspiring to make illegal repairs on the cargo tanks and to defraud the United States Department of Transportation. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

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