By Rich Lamb

ALBANY, NY (AP / WCBS 880) – United Parcel Service has agreed to pay $1.3 million and use an independent vehicle inspector for five years after investigators found dozens of its delivery trucks had operated with damaged frames in the state, the attorney general said.

The Atlanta-based company “knowingly endangered” delivery workers and the driving public, New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb with Eric Schneiderman

“By keeping these rotting and decaying trucks on the roadways, UPS was an accident waiting to happen, and this office has zero tolerance for anyone who knowingly poses a serious and significant risk to New Yorkers,” he said.

An investigation showed that in 2004 at least 23 delivery trucks were identified by UPS supervisors as having “cracked” or “rotted” frames but were kept in regular service for up to two years, the attorney general’s office said. In 2005, 106 delivery trucks were identified as having “frame cracks” or “needing complete frame assembly,” it said.

UPS, because of its massive fleet, had a state license to do its own vehicle inspections. The company, which bills itself as the world’s largest package delivery company, said Tuesday it maintains “one of the safest fleets in the industry.”

“To even suggest that UPS would knowingly endanger the lives of its employees or driving public is untrue and was not substantiated by any evidence in this case,” company spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said in an e-mailed statement.

She said that UPS has about 5,000 vehicles in New York covered by the settlement and that the investigation has been used to reevaluate and improve the inspection process.

The independent inspector, to be approved by the attorney general and paid for by UPS, is supposed to inspect all UPS vehicles in service within the state during the first three years. The inspector is to do spot checks during the next two years.

The investigation began after a company mechanic tipped officials that four trucks with cracked frames he removed from service at the Watertown facility in March 2006 were allowed to keep going without repairs, the attorney general said.

UPS agreed to graduated penalties for any future violations, Schneiderman said. The company also agreed to abide by state and federal limits on maximum driving hours, maximum weights and securing cargo, he said.

The case, which began under then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, was settled Dec. 24 under his successor and now Gov. Andrew Cuomo. UPS paid the money Jan. 21, attorney general’s office spokeswoman Jennifer Givner said.

UPS was founded in Seattle in 1907. It had more than 400,000 employees worldwide in 2009 and delivered 3.8 billion packages and documents, according to its website.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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