Investigations

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Pennsylvania Truck Owner, Driver, Inspection Sticker Supplier Plead Guilty Following Deadly Crash

On December 15, 2009, Victor M. Kalinitchii pled guilty to various state charges in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, Norristown, Pennsylvania, including one felony count of homicide by vehicle. The plea is related to a January 23, 2009, accident on U.S. 76 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in which one person died and five others were seriously injured when a truck, operated by Valerjis Belovs, plowed into stopped traffic. Mr. Kalinitchii owned the commercial vehicle operated by Mr. Belovs. Mr. Kalinitchii admitted that he solicited, received, and affixed illicit inspection stickers on commercial trucks he owned.

Mr. Belovs previously pled guilty to various state charges including one felony count of homicide by vehicle. Likewise, Joseph Jadczak, the owner and operator of Pratt Auto, the supplier of the illicit inspection stickers, also pled guilty. Mr. Jadczak admitted that he provided fraudulent commercial vehicle stickers without actually performing any vehicle inspections.

The investigation determined that the crash was a result of the fact that the tractor–trailer’s brakes were extremely dangerous. Both the driver of the tractor trailer, Mr. Belovs, and its owner, Mr. Kalinitchii, were allegedly aware of the dangerous brake condition and took no steps to fix the problem. Rather, Mr. Belovs continued to drive the truck at Mr. Kalinitchii’s direction. The investigation further revealed that the commercial vehicle displayed a valid inspection sticker despite the condition of the brakes. These stickers were allegedly provided by Mr. Jadczak. Mr. Jadczak allegedly never inspected the truck and permitted Mr. Kalinitchii to operate the vehicle with the dangerous brake condition. Additionally, an Office of Inspector General analysis of Mr. Belovs’ regulated driver logbooks revealed that he was driving in excess of the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMSCA’s) maximum hours of operating a commercial vehicle at the time of the accident.

The investigation is ongoing, and is being worked jointly with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office and the Pennsylvania State Police. The FMSCA is assisting the investigation.