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New Jersey acting attorney general John J. Hoffman disclosed that three men who operate a private auto inspection business in Paterson were charged

with fraudulently using data simulators to generate false results for motor vehicle emissions inspections. The men allegedly took payments from customers in return for using the electronic devices to generate passing results for vehicles that had failed emissions inspections.

The charges are the result of a joint investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

The Division of Criminal Justice charged the following individuals with second-degree conspiracy, second-degree computer crimes and third-degree tampering with public records or information:

  • Christopher Alcantara of Paterson, owner of Five Stars Auto Inspection, which is located in Paterson.
  • Mariano Alcantara of Clifton.
  • Lewis Alcantara-Sosa of Paterson.

Christopher and Mariano Alcantara were arrested by detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice and were lodged in the Bergen County Jail with bail set at $50,000 for each. Lewis Alcantara was charged by summons and was released without posting bail after he was processed on the charges.

Most passenger cars and light-duty vehicles of model year 1996 or later have an onboard diagnostic (OBD) system that monitors the vehicle’s emissions system. During an OBD inspection, an inspector at a private inspection facility or a central inspection facility (CIF) connects state-approved inspection equipment to a standardized data link connector in the vehicle to retrieve OBD data in order to determine whether the vehicle passes or fails.

It is alleged that, on numerous occasions during the past year, the defendants temporarily installed OBD simulators in place of the data link connector in vehicles that had failed emissions inspections. The defendants allegedly charged customers up to $150 in return for using OBD simulators.

During the course of the investigation, investigators conducted surveillance of the defendants and Five Stars Auto Inspection. In addition, they allegedly arranged for the defendants to install OBD simulators in two undercover vehicles so that they would pass inspection. Investigators executed a search warrant today at Five Stars Auto Inspection, where they seized evidence including OBD simulators and records.

Second degree crimes carry a sentence of 5 to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. In addition, the charge of second degree computer crimes carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed. Third degree crimes carry a sentence of 3 to 5 years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

Published in the March 2014 Edition of American Recycler News