For Immediate Release - October 01, 2015

Newburyport Auto Emissions Inspector and Service Station Sued for Conducting Fraudulent Motor Vehicle Inspections

R L Currie Corp. Allegedly Issued Inspection Stickers to Vehicles Fraudulently

BOSTON – A Newburyport motor vehicle inspector and a service station have been sued for allegedly issuing passing inspection certificates to motor vehicles that underwent fraudulent emissions inspections, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

According to the complaint, filed Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court, Randy L. Currie of West Newbury allegedly conducted at least eight fraudulent inspections of cars that were subject to on-board diagnostic tests (OBD) at Compass Autoworks, a licensed inspection station owned by R L Currie Corp. During an OBD test, an inspector downloads the engine and emissions control data to a computer to be analyzed. 

“Service stations and their hired vehicle inspectors must realize that they cannot ignore critical laws that protect public health and our environment,” AG Healey said. “Our office will aggressively pursue those who fail to comply with the Massachusetts Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program designed to protect people from these illegal practices.”

“Promoting clean air for all citizens includes enforcing the important laws related to vehicle emission testing,” said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). “MassDEP will continue to investigate those who engage in deceptive practices that result in unfair competitive advantage, illegal profit and that intentionally avoid accurate emissions detection.”

According to the complaint, for each of the fraudulent inspections, the defendant conducted a test on a substitute motor vehicle that he knew would pass and then used the results to issue passing inspection stickers to different vehicles. 

This illegal practice is known as “clean scanning.” The Currie case is one in a series of closely coordinated inter-agency phony emission sticker cases that have been identified and developed by the Environmental Strike Force of the MassDEP, working in tandem with the Department’s Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance program, and officials from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

The lawsuit also alleges that Currie conducted at least 40 fraudulent emissions inspections of heavy-duty diesel powered vehicles (weighing more than 10,000-pounds) at R L Currie Corp.’s Truck Fixer station that were subject to a smoke opacity test because they are not equipped with an OBD system. The smoke opacity test, which measures the density of black smoke in a vehicle’s exhaust, is administered in accordance with MassDEP regulatory guidelines under the Massachusetts Clean Air Act. These guidelines establish standards for smoke opacity levels that a vehicle must not exceed to pass the inspection. 

According to the complaint, the defendants used three different illegal methods to falsify passing results for the vehicles. They then used the fraudulent results to print out and issue passing inspection stickers to the vehicle that was subject to the inspection when it was in fact not properly inspected.

Diesel engines emit a toxic mix of pollutants, causing adverse health impacts, such as asthma, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, increased emergency room visits, birth defects, premature births, and other respiratory illnesses. 

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties up to $25,000 per violation of the Massachusetts Clean Air Act, and civil penalties up to $5,000 per violation of the Massachusetts Regulation of Business Practices Consumer Protection Act.

In addition to these violations, the complaint alleges that R L Currie Corp. violated the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Management Act by failing to register with the MassDEP as a “large quantity generator” of waste oil, illegally transporting hazardous waste, and failing to comply with several safety storage requirements.  The complaint seeks civil penalties up to $25,000 for each of these violations.

The case is being handled by Betsy Harper, deputy chief of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, and legal analyst Jillian Riley of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from MassDEP Senior Counsel Jennifer Davis. Stephen Spencer of MassDEP’s Environmental Strike Force, Julie Ross, Craig Woleader and John Flemmi of MassDEP’s Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program and Michael Devaney of the Registry of Motor Vehicle’s Vehicle Safety & Compliance Services Department also performed key work on this case.