GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The state of Michigan is investigating two Grand Rapids-area trucking firms over accusations they failed to pay employees.

Both companies, Sunset Logistics and Excel Trucking LLC, shut down in September, and workers told Target 8 they have not received final paychecks.

On Wednesday, the MI Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity confirmed its Wage and Hour Division is “currently investigating wage claims” filed against the two firms.

Both operations were located on Clay Avenue SW in Grand Rapids and their leaders are well known to each other and West Michigan.

Sunset Logistics was owned by Harvey (Buddy) Gainey III, a member of a high-profile trucking dynasty that’s experienced financial turmoil before.

Buddy Gainey’s father, the late Harvey Gainey Sr., was at the helm of trucking giant Gainey Corporation when it filed for bankruptcy in 2008.

Online corporation records show Excel Trucking LLC is led by Carl Oosterhouse, a former attorney who was disbarred in 2008 after he misappropriated funds, according to disciplinary records.

Oosterhouse previously served as corporate counsel for Gainey Corporation, and he’s still listed as a trustee of the Gainey Foundation, which reported net assets of $14.4 million in 2021.

“(Oosterhouse) admitted to conversion, deceiving a client and intentional dishonesty,” wrote the Attorney Discipline Board in its November 2008 opinion revoking Oosterhouse’s law license. “The conduct admitted included conversion of client funds, misappropriation of client and law firm funds, forgery, submission of invalid expense reports, inappropriate transfer of funds between client accounts, and failing to provide truthful statements when initially questioned about the inappropriate conduct.”

Target 8 reached Oosterhouse by phone Wednesday morning and asked him about Excel’s closure, as well as allegations he had not paid employees. He hung up.

According to federal motor carrier records, Excel Trucking LLC employed 30 drivers and was declared “out of service” as of Sept. 26.

The same database shows Sunset Logistics remains operational with 90 drivers.

But multiple truckers who drove for Sunset told Target 8 the company shut down September 25 with no warning, no final paychecks and, for some drivers, no way to get home.  

Buddy Gainey has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

As of Wednesday evening, the online database of federal court records showed no bankruptcy filings related to the two companies or their owners.