Avon Man Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Jail for Counterfeit Motor Vehicle Inspection Scheme
Defendant Issued Counterfeit Inspection Stickers Made At Dorchester Auto Shop, Sentenced to One Year in Jail
BOSTON — An Avon man has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to one year in jail in connection with running a counterfeit motor vehicle inspection scheme out of a Dorchester auto shop, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Jose Sostre, 61, of Avon, pleaded guilty in Suffolk Superior Court Monday to 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.
After the plea was entered, Judge Mitchell Kaplan sentenced Sostre to one year in the House of Correction, 90 days to serve followed by a three year probationary period on the counterfeiting, conspiracy to counterfeit, uttering, and firearm convictions. Under the terms of his probation, Sostre will be placed on home confinement for additional 90 day period after his release from jail. Sostre is required to surrender his motor vehicle inspector’s license and is not to conduct any motor vehicle inspections for the term of his probation. Judge Kaplan also sentenced Sostre to pay a $5,000 fine on the conspiracy to utter inspection stickers conviction.
“This defendant created and issued counterfeit inspection stickers for vehicles that otherwise would not have passed important emissions checks that serve to protect our air,” AG Healey said. “Schemes like this endanger the public and violate laws intended to protect public health and our environment.”
“Emission standards are developed by the Commonwealth to promote cleaner air and protect public health and those policies are undercut by anyone who flouts those rules,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg.
“The outcome announced today reinforces that the Commonwealth, on behalf of consumers, takes the integrity of the motor vehicle inspection program seriously,” said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin C. Deveney. “Thank you to our partners for protecting the environment and the health and safety of our residents and roadway users.”
The state's motor vehicle inspection program, a joint program with MassDEP and the Registry of Motor Vehicles, requires yearly safety tests for all motor vehicles. Passenger vehicles that are less than 15 years old are subject to yearly safety and emission inspections, which can only be conducted at facilities licensed by the RMV. Inspection tests can only be conducted by people licensed by the RMV. The program is designed to ensure only safe and clean vehicles operate on the state's roads.
In the spring of 2013, the AG’s Office began investigating after the matter was referred by MassDEP and the RMV. Working in concert with those agencies as well as the Massachusetts Environmental Police, the AG’s investigation revealed that, on specific dates in September 2013, Sostre created and issued counterfeit inspection stickers at Tony's Auto Repair and Body Shop, in Dorchester, where he worked as a licensed inspector. Specifically, Sostre created fake "passing" inspection stickers for vehicles which had failed their emissions testing. The investigation further revealed that Sostre conspired with others between mid-August and early-October 2013 to make and issue counterfeit stickers at Tony's Auto, and that he illegally possessed a firearm at the auto shop without having a FID card.
Tony's Auto is currently not 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 Healey, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton, and MassDEP Commissioner Suuberg and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. The Strike Force is comprised of prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office, Massachusetts Environmental Police Detectives 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 was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Daniel Licata, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Strike Force, with assistance from MassDEP, Massachusetts Environmental Police, MassDOT, RMV and the AG’s Digital Forensics Lab.