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Texas Owner and Company Involved in Fatal Bus Fire/Explosion Convicted at Trial for Circumventing Motor Carrier Safety Regulations

On October 3, Global Limo (Global) and its owner-operator, James Maples, were convicted in U.S. District Court in McAllen, TX, following a seven-day trial on charges of violating U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, for failure to properly inspect and maintain buses. Maples' was acquitted of a conspiracy charge. Sentencing is scheduled for December 14 2006, in McAllen, TX.

Maples and Global were investigated as a result of the September 23, 2005, fatal bus fire/explosion involving a Global bus. The fire killed 23 elderly passengers being evacuated from a nursing home from the Houston, TX, area in the path of approaching Hurricane Rita. Although no charges were filed in connection with the fire, the investigation revealed that Maples and Global knowingly conspired with individuals to willfully falsify entries in daily driver logs prepared by Global drivers. Maples and Global also violated FMCSA regulations by: 1) not properly inspecting and maintaining Global buses; 2) operating buses in condition that would likely cause an accident or breakdown, including operating vehicles without adequate preventive maintenance, and 3) failing to have drivers complete driver vehicle inspection reports at the end of the work day. FMCSA conducted an inspection of Global's operations, following the bus fire, and ordered Global out of service. Global has ceased operations since that time. This investigation was conducted jointly with FMCSA.