Cuomo Arrests Nyc Repair Shop Employees For Faking More Than 8,000 Dmv-required Vehicle Inspections
NEW YORK, N.Y. (October 29, 2009) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, along with Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”) Commissioner Pete Grannis and Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) Commissioner David J. Swarts, today announced the arrests of several employees from one of New York City’s busiest vehicle inspection stations, who allegedly issued more than 8,000 New York State vehicle inspection certificates to vehicles they never tested.
According to the felony complaints filed today in Bronx County Criminal Court, Stephen Kassad, 45, the owner of Mobile Diagnostics Auto Services, a licensed New York State motor vehicle inspection station located at 3380 Third Avenue in the Bronx, and four of his employees allegedly used a computer simulator for more than a year to fabricate vehicle emissions/safety inspections in order to “pass” vehicles and grant them inspection certificate stickers without actually performing state-required testing.
“These inspections are in place to protect not only the safety of New York’s drivers, but also the quality of New York’s environment,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “In an egregious violation of the law, this company’s alleged scheme showed an appalling disregard for both. Today’s arrests will hold the perpetrators accountable and put an end to this dangerous enterprise.”
Commissioner Pete Grannis, of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said: “Over the last two years, we have put a strong emphasis on cracking down on truck pollution in urban settings, precisely to prevent harmful emissions from impacting communities. Attempts to subvert vehicle inspection and maintenance processes cannot be tolerated, because it defrauds both the state and the consumer, and results in diminished environmental protections. DEC will continue to work with the Attorney General and all our partners to enforce the state's emissions inspection criteria.”
DMV Commissioner David J. Swarts said, “I applaud the cooperative efforts of the Attorney General, the DEC and DMV to uncover this criminal activity. The conduct of inspection station employees that put potentially unsafe and environmentally hazardous vehicles on the road will not be tolerated and we look forward to these individuals being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The joint investigation revealed that Kassad and the employees allegedly used a simulator that attaches directly to the inspection station’s DMV computer and sends fabricated information to the DMV computer simulating most of the 93 data fields that would normally be sent during inspection from a vehicle’s onboard diagnostic system computer, resulting in the DMV computer issuing a “pass” certificate.
According to the felony complaints, DMV was able to determine that Mobile Diagnostics had been faking inspections by analyzing inspection data from the past two years, revealing that 8,630 vehicles all had the exact same reading in a particular data field. Attorney General Cuomo’s Office and the DEC also conducted an undercover operation at Mobile Diagnostics, where an investigator took two different vehicles to the business that were rigged to fail a legitimate inspection. Mobile Diagnostics, performing only minimal or no actual inspection on either vehicle, passed both cars.
In July 2009, investigators from Cuomo’s Office and DEC executed a search warrant at the facility and recovered the simulator device. After testing, it was confirmed that this device was used to fake the 8,630 inspections over the past two years. According to the complaint, Kassad admitted to purchasing the simulator and used it to conduct the fake inspections.
In addition to Kassad, the following employees were charged today:
- Juan Fajardo, 56, of the Bronx, a licensed DMV inspector
- Oscar Paulino, 23, of New York City, a licensed DMV inspector
- Christian Tejada, 24, of the Bronx, a licensed DMV inspector
- Domingo Javier, 57, of the Bronx
The defendants are all being charged with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree (D felony), Issuing a False Certificate (E felony) and multiple counts of Illegal Issuance of an Emission Certificate of Inspection (misdemeanor), which carries a fine of $15,000 per count. The charge of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree carries a maximum prison sentence of 7 years.
Another individual, Daniel Ortiz, 32, of the Bronx, and his employer, Ort Truck Repair, Inc., located at 627 Tiffany Street in the Bronx, were also charged with several felonies relating to the investigation. Ortiz and the company are being charged with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree (D felony). According to the complaint, Ortiz issued a Safety/Diesel Emissions Inspection Certificate to a diesel truck without performing the proper inspection.
The charges are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Jason P. Garelick, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Felice Sontupe, Chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Gail Heatherly, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Robin L. Baker. The investigation was conducted by Investigator Edward Ortiz under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator Jonas Harris and Chief Investigator Thomas Richardson. The investigation was assisted by DEC Investigator Linda Escobar under the supervision of Lieutenants John Mattera and Frank Lapinski and Captain Ronald Stabak of Conservation Police Region 2 in New York City.