Father and Son Indicted in Counterfeit Motor Vehicle Inspection Sticker Scheme
Defendants Allegedly Issued Counterfeit Inspection Stickers Made at Dorchester Auto Shop
BOSTON — A father and son have been indicted in connection with running a counterfeit motor vehicle inspection sticker scheme out of their Dorchester auto shop, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
Jose Sostre, age 61, of Avon, and his son, Tommy Sostre, age 28, of Brockton, were indicted on Monday by a Suffolk County Grand Jury.
Jose Sostre was indicted on charges of Counterfeiting Motor Vehicle Inspection Stickers (4 counts), Uttering or Publishing as True Counterfeit Motor Vehicle Inspection Stickers (4 counts), Conspiracy to Counterfeit Motor Vehicle Inspection Stickers, Conspiracy to Utter or Publishing as True Counterfeit Inspection Stickers, and Possession of a Firearm without an Firearms Identification (FID) Card.
Tommy Sostre was indicted on charges of Counterfeiting Motor Vehicle Inspection Stickers (20 counts), Uttering or Publishing as True Counterfeit Motor Vehicle Inspection Stickers (20 counts), Conspiracy to Counterfeit Motor Vehicle Inspection Stickers, and Conspiracy to Utter or Publishing as True Counterfeit Inspection Stickers.
Both defendants are expected to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court on October 20.
“We allege that these defendants created and issued counterfeit inspection stickers to vehicles that otherwise would not pass safety or emissions inspections, violating laws intended to keep our roads safe and our air clean,” AG Coakley said.
“This was an egregious phony sticker scam developed and painstakingly investigated by working collaboratively with our sister agencies and our law enforcement partners,” said MassDEP Commissioner David Cash. “Together we are able to leverage enforcement resources, hone in on suspected fraud and ferret out perpetrators so that consumers are protected and everyone plays on a level playing field.”
In the spring of 2013, the AG’s Office began an investigation after the matter was initially investigated and referred by MassDEP and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). The Commonwealth’s motor vehicle inspection program is jointly administered by MassDEP and the RMV and is designed to ensure that only safe and clean vehicles operate on the state’s roadways.
Between August 2013 and October 2013, Jose and Tommy Sostre allegedly created and issued a large number of counterfeit inspection stickers at Tony’s Auto, which at the time was a licensed motor vehicle inspection station in Dorchester owned by Tommy Sostre.
The motor vehicle inspection program requires annual safety inspections of all motor vehicles, and passenger vehicles less than 15 years old are subject to annual emissions inspections. Safety and emissions inspections can be conducted only at facilities licensed by the RMV and only by licensed individuals.
Authorities allege that Jose and Tommy Sostre created a large number of counterfeit inspection stickers by using official inspection sticker stock on to which they cut and pasted various pieces of fraudulent information. They then allegedly affixed those “passing” counterfeit stickers on to numerous vehicles that did not pass safety or emissions inspections, or on to vehicles that weren’t inspected at all. According to authorities, Jose and Tommy Sostre would charge customers more for these counterfeit passing inspection stickers.
Investigators found physical evidence at Tony’s Auto that indicated that Jose and Tommy Sostre were creating a large number of counterfeit stickers and issuing them to vehicles. Investigators also discovered an illegal firearm allegedly belonging to Jose Sostre, who did not have a FID card.
Tony's Auto is not currently authorized to provide motor vehicle inspections.
These charges stem from an investigation by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force, an interagency unit that is overseen by AG Coakley, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett, and MassDEP Commissioner Cash. The Strike Force comprises prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Police Officers assigned to the AG’s Office, and investigators and engineers from 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.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Daniel Licata, Senior Counsel in the Environmental Crimes Strike Force, and Special Assistant Attorney General Philip Messier, assigned to the Environmental Crimes Strike Force, with assistance from MassDEP, Environmental Police, MassDOT/RMV, and the AG’s Digital Evidence Lab.