The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced today that it has assessed penalties totaling $930,000 on two inspection stations in the Bronx for conducting fraudulent motor vehicle emissions inspections.
Manuel R. Inoa and Ramon B. Reyes, certified inspectors at AMI Auto Sales and Gurabo Auto Sales, used electronic simulators to falsify 5,372 state emissions inspections over a two-year period, which is a violation of DEC’s motor vehicle emission inspection regulations under 6 NYCRR Part 217.
“These inspectors knowingly completed more than 5,000 fraudulent inspections, jeopardizing human health and the environment,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Poorly maintained or malfunctioning emissions control systems on motor vehicles contribute to emissions that can impair respiratory health. A multi-agency effort to thwart these practices brought this fraudulent activity to light.”
In addition to fines imposed by DEC, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles imposed fines totaling $50,400 and revoked the station and inspector licenses.
“These multi-agency efforts to combat inspection fraud are critical to protect the air we breathe and the consumers who did not receive the inspections they paid for,” said New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala. “These cooperative efforts have proved invaluable and DMV will continue to work with DEC and the Attorney General to ensure the public is protected.”
The New York Vehicle Inspection Program (NYVIP) requires annual onboard diagnostic (OBDII) emissions inspections for most model year 1996 and newer light duty vehicles. During an OBDII inspection, certified inspectors must physically connect the state-approved inspection equipment to a standardized connector located in the vehicle being inspected. The investigation into AMI, Gurabo and others revealed the inspectors connected the NYVIP equipment to an electronic simulator instead of the vehicle of record. Staff from DEC was able to identify the “electronic signature” of the simulator using data collected during the inspection. Staff also demonstrated that the inspections were not representative of actual vehicles.
The investigation by DEC, DMV and the Office of Attorney General into the use of simulators in the New York City area began in 2009 and resulted in arrests at Mobile Diagnostics Auto Services in the Bronx and citations at 40 other facilities in early 2010. A similar joint DEC-DMV-OAG enforcement initiative was completed in 2011 where four inspectors were arrested for completing “clean scans,” a fraudulent practice that involves substituting a vehicle in order to pass an inspection.