NEW YORK CITY — A former vice president of information technology at Coach USA was sentenced late last month to 15 months in prison for obstruction of justice in connection with the long-running investigation of Twin America LLC.
Ralph Groen, who apparently now lives in North Carolina, was accused of attempting to conceal and destroy documents related to the civil antitrust investigation of Twin America and for providing false and misleading statements during the course of litigation that stemmed from the investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.
Groen was ordered to serve 15 months in prison and to pay a $5,000 criminal fine.
In October, Groen pleaded guilty to corruptly obstructing, influencing and impeding a civil antitrust investigation and subsequent litigation brought by the federal government and the State of New York.
On Nov. 17, the district court entered a final judgment requiring Coach USA/Stagecoach Group (parent company of Coach USA) and CitySights to pay $7.5 million
According to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Groen directed his subordinates to recall, conceal and destroy end-of-month backup tapes containing emails that were related to the investigation and litigation.
Additionally, say the court documents, Groen provided false and misleading information to Coach USA’s investigators and to prosecutors during the course of a deposition taken as part of the litigation.
The civil litigation, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in New York, related to the New York City hop-on, hop-off tour bus market and challenged Coach USA’s (and its parent company Stagecoach Group) and CitySights’ formation of the Twin America joint venture in 2009. (See April 1 Bus & Motorcoach News.)
On Nov. 17, the district court entered a final judgment requiring Coach USA/Stagecoach Group (parent company of Coach USA) and CitySights to pay $7.5 million in disgorgement and to make divestitures to address the competitive harm alleged in the government’s lawsuit.
Groen’s sentencing resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Justice Department Antitrust Division Washington Criminal I Section and the FBI Washington field office.
During the investigation and litigation, Coach USA/Stagecoach Group asserted it was cooperating with the investigation, implying, however, it may have had employees who engaged in wrongdoing.
In February, Stagecoach Group confirmed it had sold its interest in the Twin America joint venture for an undisclosed sum. Stagecoach North America, which held 50 percent of the voting rights and 60 percent of the economic rights of the joint venture, sold its interest to CitySights.