For Immediate Release - April 29, 2011

AG Coakley Reaches Settlement with Worcester Service Station for Alleged Fraudulent Emissions Inspections

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today that she has reached a settlement with the former operator of a Worcester motor vehicle emissions inspection station for allegedly conducting fraudulent inspections in violation of the Commonwealth's regulations implementing the Massachusetts Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program.

According to the complaint, from June 2008 through September 2008, Askanian conducted at least 52 fraudulent inspections at Elie's Sunoco, using 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.

The complaint alleges that for each of the fraudulent inspections, Askanian 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 but in fact was not inspected. This illegal practice is referred to as "clean scanning."

Under the settlement filed in Suffolk Superior Court, the inspector's license of Vrej Askanian, the owner and operator of Elie's Sunoco on Main Street in Worcester, is suspended for 90 days. In addition, the judgment provides for a $52,000 penalty. In light of the defendant's financial circumstances, Askanian will be allowed to pay a reduced amount, provided he complies with the order and does not further violate the law.

"The state's Enhanced Emissions and Safety Testing Program is an important tool in our fight against air pollution," AG Coakley said. "We will continue to vigorously pursue enforcement against those who try to circumvent the state's efforts to protect the public health and the environment from excessive automobile emissions."

"Reputable inspection stations, and the public, need to see that we will act to root out those few bad operators who attempt to corrupt the vehicle emission program and carry on this type of consumer deception, which undermines our air pollution control efforts," MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth L. Kimmell said.

"The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is committed to ensuring public safety," said Registrar Rachel Kaprielian. "The RMV will continue to ensure the safety of operators and vehicles on the Commonwealth's roadways by revoking or suspending the license of any station that fails to uphold the vehicle inspection laws."

Consumers who want to find out more about the Program should call the toll-free Massachusetts Vehicle Check Help Desk (866-941-6277) or visit the Massachusetts Vehicle Check website at http://www.mass.gov/vehiclecheck.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Goldberg of AG Coakley's Environmental Protection Division is handling the case, and was assisted by John Harney of the Civil Investigation Division. Attorney Jennifer Davis is handling the case for MassDEP along with Stephen Spencer of MassDEP's Environmental Strike Force, and Craig Woleader and John Flemmi of MassDEP's Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program. Michael Devaney and Todd Gurney of the Registry of Motor Vehicles assisted in the investigation.

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