An auto emissions tester in Nevada, Joseph DeMatteo, is wanted by authorities for falsifying vehicle emissions test reports. He was part of a ring of ten alleged fakers, who were indicted by a grand jury for illegal activities during a period from November 2007 to May 2009.
Did you know the EPA had a “Most Wanted” list?
The alleged scam was conducted by entering a VIN number into a computer record for a vehicle expected not to pass an emissions test, but hooking the emissions testing equipment up to a vehicle that had already passed. A report with the wrong vehicle’s pass data could be illegally generated and then sold for an extra fee.
Sources indicate a false report could be had for as little as ten bucks over the normal smog test price, and as high as one hundred. But no amount of money is worth allowing polluting vehicles on the streets and highways of Las Vegas, or any other city. Vegas already has air pollution issues, and with its very high tourists numbers that means a lot of people are breathing unhealthy air. Also at issue, is the identity of those who were purchasing false emissions reports, and why they aren’t being pursued. Isn’t buying fake reports to knowingly operate a polluting vehicle also illegal?
It isn’t indicated exactly how many polluting vehicles were allowed to falsely pass, and remain smogging up Vegas. The allegations, if proven, are even more troubling in that, such vehicles evaluators are not merely doing a job like rotating tires and changing oil. Their work is actually directly impactful on the health of every day people and the environment. I wonder how well that fact is understood by the alleged scammers, or if they even care.
What is clear, is that indictment is for felony violations, and the penalities can include prison time and fines of up to $250,000. The public is encouraged to provide information about the accused via the EPA’s fugitives website. In a situation like this one, emotions run high due to the damage inflicted by some self-serving individuals upon our shared natural resources and the public health. The EPA fugitives site clearly states, however, that none of the accused and/or fugitives should be apprehended by members of the public. They could be dangerous and only law enforcement officials can properly deal with them. It is also stressed that accused people are innocent until proven guilty.
Image Credit: EPA Fugitives website