Local Trucking Co. Owner Pleads Guilty to Fraud

Marlon Danner admitted that he talked truck drivers into returning state-mandated settlement money that they received because he underpaid them when working on a federally funded project.

Marlon Danner, a 66-year-old man from Inver Grove Heights who owns two local trucking companies, has pleaded guilty to defrauding truck drivers that worked for him of money.

According to Minnesota's U.S. Attorney's office, Danner pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on Friday for talking truck drivers that were employed by his companies into returning state-mandated settlement money that they received because he underpaid them when working on a federally funded project.

Danner provided trucks and drivers for road construction projects throughout Minnesota though his two companies, Danner, Inc., and Bull Dog Leasing, Inc.

In 2008 and 2009, drivers working for Danner's companies worked on a project that was funded in part by federal money-which meant that Danner was contractually required to pay certain truck-rental rates to the drivers he hired for the project, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDot) investigated Danner's compliance with the mandated truck-rental rate and discovered that he had underpaid his drivers. In February, Danner reached a settlement with MnDot and agreed to dole out more than $185,000 to about 27 truckers to make up for the underpayment.

Danner admitted in his plea agreement that he called many of the drivers and instructed them to return the settlement funds to him, saying that MnDot had made a mistake in concluding that they had been underpaid. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Danner received more than $120,000 of the $185,000 in settlement funds he originally had provided through MnDot, and he also failed to disclose the repayments to MnDot.

Danner faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for one count of wire fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Schiltz will determine his sentence at a yet-to-be scheduled hearing.