Somerset Man Pleads Guilty to Conducting Fraudulent Inspections on Vehicles, Including School Buses
Defendant Unlawfully Issued State Inspection Stickers to Untested Vehicles
FALL RIVER — A Somerset man and his inspection company have pleaded guilty to issuing state inspection stickers without conducting required safety and emission inspections of commercial vehicles, including school buses, tractor trailers and construction equipment, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
Richard Silvia, 71, pleaded guilty in Bristol Superior Court on Tuesday to charges of Violating Vehicle Emissions and Safety Inspection Requirements (41 counts) and Fraudulently Issuing Inspection Stickers (24 counts). His company, Bristol County Tire Service, Inc. (BCT) pleaded guilty to charges of Violating Vehicle Emissions and Safety Inspection Requirements (3 counts) and Fraudulently Issuing an Inspection Sticker.
After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge Gary A. Nickerson sentenced Silvia to 60 days in the House of Corrections followed by five years of probation on and after the imposed jail sentence. Under the conditions of probation Silvia is prohibited from being involved directly or indirectly with the inspection of motor vehicles, including Bristol County Tire Service, or any business involving the inspection of motor vehicles. Silvia is further prohibited from handling or using RMV documents directly or indirectly in any way.
“This defendant and his company posed a threat to public health and safety by improperly conducting inspections of large vehicles, including school buses, and then fraudulently issuing state inspection stickers for them,” AG Coakley said. “This case was brought forward as a result of a true collaborative effort between our office, MassDEP, DOT/RMV, and the Massachusetts Environmental Police.”
“The Environmental Strike Force continues to work to identify and prosecute those cases involving the improper issuance of inspection stickers,” said Kenneth Kimmell, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “The safety and emissions program is in place to protect public health and safety and we will not allow this important program to be undermined.”
“Compromising the integrity of and bypassing the safety and emissions standards of the Massachusetts Vehicle Check program puts us all at risk,” said MassDOT Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian. “I commend the collective efforts of my staff, the AG, DEP and the Environmental Strike Force to protect school children and the motoring public.”
In September 2012, the AG’s Office began an investigation after the matter was initially investigated and referred by MassDEP. Silvia owns BCT, a private mobile inspection company that conducts mandatory state inspections of commercial vehicles at a fleet’s location.
Between 2011 and 2012, Silvia issued inspections stickers for large commercial vehicles, including school buses, tractor trailers, and construction equipment, on which he did not conduct the mandatory safety inspections. Also during that time period, Silvia repeatedly issued state inspections stickers to vehicles that were not actually inspected for emissions by using one vehicle to conduct the inspection and printing stickers for numerous other vehicles.
This conduct occurred when Silvia was performing inspections on school buses in Orleans, Dennis, and Plymouth, and in Freetown on tractor trailers and construction equipment. It was first discovered by the MassDEP through a detailed analysis of data by their Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program, then through inspections by the Registry of Motor Vehicles, culminating in a surprise inspection by MassDEP members of the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force.
The investigation also found evidence that Silvia used another inspector’s commercial driver’s license and pin number to conduct inspections on heavy-duty commercial vehicles that he was not licensed to inspect.
These charges stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit which is overseen by AG Coakley, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, and MassDEP Commissioner Kimmell. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, and investigators and engineers from the MassDEP who investigate and prosecute crimes that harm or threaten the state’s water, air, or land and that pose a significant threat to human health.
A Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments against Silvia and BCT on May 9. The defendants were arraigned in Barnstable and Plymouth Superior Courts on May 30 and in Bristol Superior Court on June 12. The defendants pleaded not guilty at each arraignment and were released on personal recognizance. Silvia and BCT pleaded guilty and were sentenced yesterday in Bristol Superior Court.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Rainer, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Strike Force, and Assistant Attorney General Sara Shannon, of AG Coakley's Environmental Crimes Division, with assistance from MassDEP Strike Force Director Pamela Talbot, Stephen Spencer and Rich Tomczyk of MassDEP’s Environmental Strike Force, Julie Ross and John Flemmi of MassDEP’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Environmental Police and MassDOT/RMV personnel.