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Phil Monfoletto Had Nine License Suspensions Before He Killed Kevin Flores. Why Did State DOT Let Him Drive an Oil Truck?

3:18 PM EST on February 8, 2018

The scene of the crash that killed Kevin Flores. Video still: WNBC

Philip Monfoletto has a history of license suspensions and, according to police and prosecutors, was driving without a valid license when he ran over and killed 13-year-old Kevin Flores with his company's oil delivery truck in Brooklyn last month.

Given Monfoletto's record, Streetsblog wanted to know how he was allowed to operate an oil delivery business in New York. We queried the state Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and other agencies to find out. None of them gave us an answer.

Kevin Flores
Kevin Flores
Kevin Flores

Monfoletto's license has been suspended nine times, according to Newsday, and he was caught driving with a suspended license as recently as December. But on January 26 he was behind the wheel of his oil truck, driving on Lewis Avenue, where he struck Flores, who was biking home to Ridgewood.

Monfoletto was charged with misdemeanor aggravated unlicensed operation, which typically results in a fine no larger than $500 and no jail time.

M & M Oil, which owns the Mack tanker truck Monfoletto was driving, is an owner-operated company with a single vehicle. FMCSA lists Philip Monfoletto as the company contact, and M & M Oil is registered at Monfoletto’s home address in Suffolk County, according to Newsday. The FMCSA's online database shows no record of Monfoletto's license suspensions, and M & M Oil is in good standing with the agency.

Monfoletto's license was suspended "because he failed to address traffic violations," the Brooklyn District Attorney's office told Newsday.

Last week we asked the state DOT why Monfoletto’s personal license suspensions had no bearing on his owner-operated trucking company's ability to do business. DOT initially said it had no such information, and later sent us a statement: "Oil delivery companies are required to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The company, M & M Oil Corp. of Deer Park, is registered and has no prior record of crashes or infractions."

Information NYS DOT provided in the statement is readily available online and does not address the issue of commercial truck oversight, which NYS DOT is largely responsible for. NYS DOT has not answered subsequent questions regarding how the agency can hold companies accountable for incidents like the crash that killed Kevin Flores.

NYS DOT also referred us to the New York Department of State, which in turn directed us to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Queries to the DMV and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration went unanswered.

Commercial truck drivers have killed no fewer than 70 people walking and biking in NYC since the 2014 launch of the city's Vision Zero program, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. In four of those cases the truck operator was ticketed or charged criminally for driving without a valid license.

Prior to 2014, Laurence Renard and 8-year-old Noshat Nahian were killed by unlicensed commercial truck drivers in Manhattan and Queens, respectively. As in Monfoletto's case, police and prosecutors declined to charge those drivers for taking a life. There is no indication that the companies that employed the drivers who killed Renard and Nahian were penalized.

After Kevin Flores was killed, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams called for penalties against companies that employ unlicensed drivers.

The non-response from NYS DOT and other agencies suggests that the oversight of commercial trucking operations is completely untethered from personal driving records. Streetsblog will be following up to pin down an answer.

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