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Thursday, 23 October 2014 00:00

NJ Auto Inspection Shop Indicted for Falsifying Emission Test Results

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that three men who operate a private auto inspection business in Paterson were indicted on October 9 for fraudulently using data simulators to generate false results for vehicle emissions inspections. The men allegedly took payments from customers in return for using the electronic devices to generate passing results for vehicles that had failed emissions inspections, which rely on data from onboard diagnostic systems. One customer of the business also was indicted.

The Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crime Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment charging these individuals with conspiracy (2nd degree), computer theft (2nd degree), tampering with public records (3rd degree), and two counts of violation of the Air Pollution Control Act (3rd degree):
    Christopher Alcantara, 29, of Paterson, owner of Five Stars
    Auto Inspection, which is located at 34 1st Avenue in Paterson;
    Mariano Alcantara, 52, of Clifton, (an uncle of Christopher Alcantara);
    Lewis Alcantara-Sosa, 22, of Paterson, (cousin of Christopher
    and nephew of Mariano); and
Gary Davis, 62, of Rochelle Park, who allegedly knowingly paid the other defendants to obtain passing emissions results for limousines he drove by fraudulently using the data simulators.

“These defendants allegedly profited at the expense of all of us by fraudulently allowing customers to neglect their vehicles and pump unlawful levels of toxic emissions into the air that we breathe,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “This was a crime against our health as well as our environment.”

“We will continue to work with the MVC and DEP to safeguard the integrity of the state’s motor vehicle inspection program,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “As in this case, we will aggressively prosecute dishonest operators who cheat the system and threaten the public’s health.”

“The state’s stringent emissions testing program is designed to enable us to get the offending ‘polluters’ off of our roadways and into repair shops,” said Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “These repair shops are meant to be the solution – not the problem – to keeping countless tons of pollutants out of our air.”

“Governor Christie and I are committed to protecting the quality of our air and enforcing the laws and regulations that protect the health of our residents and our environment,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “This type of behavior is not acceptable.”

It is alleged that, on numerous occasions during the past year, the defendants temporarily installed OBD simulators in place of the data link connector in vehicles that had failed emissions inspections in order to generate false data that enabled the vehicles to pass inspection. The defendants allegedly charged between $80 and $150 in return for using an OBD simulator to enable the customer’s vehicle to pass the emissions inspection. It is alleged that they frequently installed the OBD simulator at Five Stars Auto Inspection, which is a PIF, but then took the vehicle to central inspection facilities, particularly the Lodi CIF. They also used the Paramus CIF.

During the course of the investigation, officials conducted surveillance of the defendants and Five Stars Auto Inspection. In addition, they allegedly arranged for the defendants to install OBD simulators in two undercover vehicles so that they would pass inspection. On Jan. 15, 2013, investigators executed a search warrant at Five Stars Auto Inspection, where they seized evidence including six OBD simulators and records.  Christopher and Mariano Alcantara were arrested that day and lodged in jail with bail set at $50,000 for each. Lewis Alcantara-Sosa was charged by summons and released.

Davis was employed as a limousine driver and was responsible for maintaining the limos that he drove. He allegedly paid the Alcantaras to fraudulently obtain passing results for several limousines.

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