Fraudulent vehicle inspections lead to lawsuits in Mass.

By Nick Rees | Oct 27, 2008

Martha Coakley (D)

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) -- Seven Massachusetts motor vehicle inspection stations are facing lawsuits after falsely giving passing emission test results to cars through deceptive practices.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles, alongside the attorney general's office and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, found that twelve inspectors at the seven stations fraudulently gave inspection tests by a process known as "clean scanning."

A vehicle unable to pass the inspection would be brought in and the inspector would then test a different a vehicle. When the different vehicle passed the test, the vehicle brought in for inspection would be issued a passing inspection sticker, the attorney general's office said.

The complaints state that not only were the inspections in violation of the emissions inspection regulations and the Massachusetts Clean Air Act, but also of the Massachusetts Regulation of Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act by misrepresenting to the public and to potential buyers of the cars that they were in working condition.

Up to a $25,000 civil penalty is sought under the Clean Air Act against the defendants with an additional $5,000 sought under the Consumer Protection Act for each illegal inspection. The complaint also seeks an order enjoining the defendants from further emissions inspections.

"Emissions from motor vehicles are a major source of ground level ozone, which is the main ingredient of smog and causes air pollution. The Enhanced Emissions and Safety Test Program is an important part of the state's effort to protect the quality of air that we all breathe and must be taken seriously," Attorney General Martha Coakley said.

"Emissions inspection stations and inspectors must recognize that they cannot circumvent or ignore the law without legal ramifications. Our office will continue to vigorously enforce the program to put an end to these clean scan practices," added Coakley, a Democrat.

Lawsuits were filed against Hillside Jaguar Inc., doing business as Hillside service Center in Somerville, Mass. and Dorchester Auto Service, Inc. in Suffolk Superior Court, alleging that since December 2006, the stations have been fraudulently passing inspections.

Emissions inspectors Robert W. Boudreau, II, owner of Hillside Service Center, and employee Robert J. Greenwood are believed to have performed at least 208 fraudulent inspections in that time with six done by Boudreau and 202 by Greenwood.

George C. Nelson of Dorchester Auto Service, Inc. is believed to have performed at least 72 fraudulent emissions scans.

In addition, administrative enforcement was initiated against Aoude Gulf Co. and inspector Yacoub Aoude for 38 fraudulent inspections, Framingham Petroleum & Auto Center, LLC, also known as Metrowest Petroleum, and inspector Luis Morales for 25 fraudulent inspections, Route 114 Gulf, Inc. and inspector Juan Munoz for 15 fraudulent inspections, Leo and Sons Auto Repair, Inc. and inspectors Matthew LaMontagne, Leo LaMontagne and Edwin Dzioba for 12 fraudulent inspections, and Hi-Tech Auto Service, Inc., and inspectors Phu Vu, Linh Bui and Vinh Nguyen for 15 fraudulent inspections.

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