For Immediate Release - January 27, 2010

Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office Files Against Haverhill Motor Vehicle Emissions Inspector

Complaint Alleges Station Owner Conducted Dozens of Fraudulent Inspections

BOSTON - Today, Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court against a Haverhill motor vehicle emissions station owner and inspector. The complaint alleges that Rafael Duluc, the station owner and inspector, conducted fraudulent inspections in violation of the Commonwealth's Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program.

"The Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program is a key component of the Commonwealth's effort to protect the quality of air that we all breathe and it must be taken seriously," said Attorney General Coakley. "Emissions inspection stations and inspectors must recognize that they cannot circumvent or ignore the law without legal ramifications. This case is one of several similar clean scan enforcement actions that our office and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection are pursuing in order to put an end to these illegal practices."

"Vehicle inspections are the bedrock of our auto emission control program, which seeks to reduce the pollutants fouling our air," MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt said. "Most of the inspection stations do it right. For those that don't, the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force and our Inspection and Maintenance Division staff will continue to work closely with the Registry of Motor Vehicles to identify violators and bring those cases forward for prosecution."

Since February 2008, Duluc has allegedly conducted at least 47 fraudulent inspections. Each of these inspections involved an on-board diagnostic (OBD) emissions test. The OBD test is a simple test in which an inspector plugs the scan tool from an inspection workstation into the vehicle's OBD connector, and the workstation's computer queries the vehicle's computer for the status of the emissions control system monitors. According to the complaint, for each of the fraudulent inspections, Duluc did not conduct an OBD test on the motor vehicle that was subject to the test as required under the Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program. Instead, he conducted an OBD test on a different motor vehicle and then used the results from that test to issue a passing inspection sticker to the vehicle that came in for the inspection. This practice is referred to as "clean scanning" and is illegal.

The complaint alleges that the clean-scanned inspections violated both the emissions inspection regulations and the Massachusetts Regulation of Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act by issuing passing inspection stickers to motor vehicles that were not inspected, Duluc falsely represented to the public, including potential purchasers of the motor vehicles at issue, that the vehicles were inspected and that they passed the emissions tests and would not be in need of any repairs on their emission control equipment. The complaint asserts the fraudulent inspections created an unfair competitive advantage for the defendant over the other inspection stations and inspectors who have been conducting lawful emissions inspections.

MassDEP in coordination with the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) established the Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program in 1999 as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce air pollution and its impact on the health of Massachusetts' residents, particularly those with respiratory ailments. The program requires that motor vehicles registered in the state be subject to a safety test every year and an emissions inspection every two years as part of the safety test. The purpose of the emissions test is to identify high polluting vehicles and to have the vehicles repaired.

The program requires that vehicle model year 1996 or newer equipped with an on-board diagnostic system be subject to the OBD test. If there is a malfunction in the vehicle's emission-related components, the OBD would indicate a fault code, which will assist in the diagnosis and repair of the components. The Program requires that the motorist have the vehicle's emission-related components repaired so that it passes a re-inspection within 60 days.

The complaint seeks civil penalties against Duluc under the Clean Air and Consumer Protection Act, which provide for penalties up to $25,000 and $5,000, respectively for each illegal inspection. The complaint also seeks an order enjoining Duluc from conducting any further emissions inspections.

Assistant Attorney General Tracy Triplett, of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Protection Division is handling the case with the assistance of MassDEP attorney Jennifer Davis, Stephen Spencer of MassDEP's Environmental Strike Force, Craig Woleader and John Flemmi of MassDEP's Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program, and attorney Robert Horacek of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division.