Bus Driver Indicted on Federal Charges
The owner of a bus that was involved in a crash that killed 17 people in 2008 has been indicted on federal charges. One of those charges is the falsification of statements made on official documents.
United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today that Angel De La Torre, 64, and Carlos Ortuno, 52, both of Houston, were taken into federal custody related to the crash of a passenger bus that happened near Sherman on August 8, 2008. The two men are charged with one count of conspiracy to make false statements, four counts of making false statements and one count of operating a commercial motor vehicle after being placed out of service.
At the time of the crash, the bus, operated by Angel Tours, was carrying 55 passengers from the Vietnamese Catholic community from Houston to Carthage, Missouri for a religious conclave when it crashed on U.S. Highway 75 near Sherman, located 60 miles north of Dallas. Seventeen of the passengers died as a result of the crash and 38 other passengers suffered injuries, some of them serious.
According to the indictment documents obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, De La Torre had been operating a passenger bus from 1994. In May 2008, during an inspection by U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), inspectors uncovered numerous violations on vehicles owned by Angel Tours. Because of the severity and the nature of the violations, the FMCSA ordered Angel Tours to cease and desist from all interstate transportation on June 23, 2008. The continued operation by the company were in clear violation of that order.
If convicted of the charges of conspiracy or making a false statement, the two men face up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. The continued operation of the company after the order by the FMCSA carries with it an added one-year term imprisonment and an additional $25,000 in fines.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Department of Transportation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark McIntyre is acting as prosecutor on the case.
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