Action 9: Local trucking company accused of using wrong, expired tags to avoid taxes

Two agencies are investigating two related Concord trucking companies.

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles and Cabarrus County tax officials are both looking into allegations the businesses used wrong or expired tags on hundreds of big rig trailers to avoid paying taxes.

Denmar Public Warehouse and Hawk Transportation have the same owner and same address. Hawk is a freight hauling company. Denmar rents trailers, so other companies can haul or store freight.

Each trailer needs a correct tag that's up to date. That way, the county knows how much to tax the business each year. Add up all the trailers and you're talking a lot of money.

But, according to a search warrant obtained by Action 9, DMV agents searched the business in May and found 285 trailers with expired tags.

They said they were acting on a tip from this Wade Nesbit, a former North Carolina state trooper. Nesbit told Action 9's Jason Stoogenke he stopped the trailers regularly for wrong or expired tags.

"Over the course of these five years, that company's probably been stopped by me 50 times and they were in violation 50 times," he said.

He showed Stoogenke some of the tickets he wrote and a list he printed a few months ago of the trailers the state had a record of Denmar owning at the time.

He said it shows how many were out of date.

"Expired, expired, expired, expired, expired, expired, a good tag, expired, a good tag," Nesbit said going down the list.  "Expired, expired, expired, expired, expired, expired, expired."

While DMV investigates the tags, the county is investigating the taxes.

Officials told Stoogenke the tax office hired an outside auditor to look into this case.

They said the county also sent Denmar and Hawk what's called -- a "discovery" letter.

They said the letter said the county has credible evidence the business owes taxes and asks for an explanation. The letter is not public record.

Denmar and Hawk has until Dec. 8 to respond. If it doesn't, the county will assume the company is in the wrong, demand the tax money and consider penalties. The law said the penalty is 10 percent of the money owed up to six years ago.

The owner emailed Stoogenke that he's cooperating with investigators.