Westport Auto Emissions Inspector to Pay Penalty for Conducting Fraudulent Inspections
Under the settlement, Mark Galhardo will pay a civil penalty totaling $10,000 for performing 33 alleged fraudulent emissions inspections. Additionally, Galhardo is prohibited from conducting any emissions inspections for one year. In light of the defendant's financial circumstances, the civil penalty will be waived provided Galhardo complies with the terms of the settlement.
AG Coakley brought the action on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). This case is one in a series of "fraudulent sticker cases" developed by the Environmental Strike Force (ESF), working together with the RMV.
According to the complaint filed in April 2011, from June 2006 through January 2010, Galhardo conducted at least 33 fraudulent inspections at Norwest Inspections, Inc., located in Westport, 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 fraudulent inspection, Galhardo conducted an OBD test on a different motor vehicle and then used those results to issue a passing sticker to the vehicle that came in for the inspection. This illegal practice is referred to as "clean scanning."
"The Massachusetts Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program is designed to protect consumers from deceptive practices and to protect public health and the environment," said AG Coakley. "We will continue to pursue those inspectors who circumvent this program by conducting fraudulent inspections."
"Issuing passing inspection stickers to vehicles that did not undergo emission inspection results in increased air pollution in the Commonwealth and fouls the air that we all breathe," said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). "Using sophisticated software, MassDEP and ESF continue to work with the RMV to identify those stations and inspectors that issue fraudulent stickers. When we identify violators, we will help the Attorney General to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."
"We are pleased to see a settlement reached in this case and thank the Office of the Attorney General for its commitment to enforce the Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program," said Registrar Rachel Kaprielian. "This outcome is in keeping with two Massachusetts Department of Transportation priorities- safety on the Commonwealth's roadways and a healthy environment."
MassDEP, in coordination with the MassRMV, 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. The Program requires that model year 1996 and newer passenger cars, trucks and SUVs, as well as 2008 and newer medium-duty vehicles, undergo an annual OBD emissions test. Working in conjunction with MassDEP and the Mass RMV, this is the seventh judgment obtained by the Attorney General's Office in the enforcement of the program.
This case was investigated by the ESF, an interagency unit that includes prosecutors from the Attorney General's Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General's Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP. The ESF is overseen by Attorney General Coakley, MassDEP Commissioner Kimmell and Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan. The ESF investigates and prosecutes crimes that harm the state's water, air, land or that pose a significant threat to human health, safety, welfare or the environment.
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.
Citizens can also call the ESF Hotline (1-888-VIOLATE) to report incidents of suspected fraudulent sticker activity or other illegal acts or contact the ESF through e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assistant Attorney General Betsy Harper of AG Coakley's Environmental Protection Division handled the case. Attorney Jennifer Davis handled 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 of the Registry of Motor Vehicles assisted in the investigation.