A licensed vehicle emissions inspector was sentenced to serve two months in prison for his role in providing fraudulent passing emissions scores for more than 200 vehicles
, according to Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. also sentenced Pedro Salmeron, of Charlotte, North Carolina to two years of supervised release, the first four months of which he must spend under home confinement. Salmeron was also ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and to a pay a $5,000 fine.
According to court records and the sentencing hearing, Salmeron was employed as a technician for “Carolina Inspections” – also known as “Carolinas Auto Inspection” – and was also a vehicle emissions inspector licensed by the state of North Carolina. As a state-licensed emissions inspector, Salmeron was responsible for ensuring the emissions of vehicles he tested met federally mandated emissions requirements.
Court records show that from February 2010 through January 2011, Salmeron conducted 201 illegal vehicle emissions inspections and falsely passed vehicles that would have failed emissions inspection. Court records indicate that Salmeron performed these fraudulent tests by entering the information of the vehicle being tested into the state database at Carolinas Auto Inspection, but then connecting the testing equipment to “surrogate” vehicles at the repair shop.
The illegal practice of utilizing substitute vehicles for emissions testing is referred to in the industry as “clean scanning.” Salmeron pleaded guilty in August 2012 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act by conducting false vehicle emissions inspections.
The Clean Air Act requires vehicle emission inspections in geographic regions that exceed national ambient air quality standards. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Charlotte metropolitan area exceeds the eight hour standard set for Ozone, a potent irritant that can cause lung damage and other types of respiratory problems.
Salmeron was ordered to self-report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
Salmeron is the latest defendant to be sentenced resulting from an investigation of Charlotte-area vehicle emissions inspectors involved in conducing “clean scans.” The multi-agency investigation has netted 14 prosecutions, with defendants serving sentences ranging from 18 months in prison to probation, in addition to home confinement, community service and monetary fines.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Kaufman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the cases.
Published in the May 2014 Edition of American Recycler News