News and Press Releases

emissions inspector pleads guilty to falsely passing vehicle inspections

OCTOBER 1, 2012

WILMINGTON - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today CLINTON J. MATTHEWS, 33, of Durham, North Carolina, pled guilty before Senior United States District Judge James C. Fox to conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and making a material false statement, representation, or certification, in violation of Title 42, United States Code, Section 7413(c)(2)(A).

According to the Criminal Information filed on August 2, 2012, MATTHEWS worked at both Express Auto Sales, in Durham, North Carolina, and Car Care Express Auto Sales and Services, also in Durham, North Carolina, as a licensed North Carolina emissions inspector. From March, 2010, through July, 2010, MATTHEWS conspired with others to pass vehicles that would normally have failed the emissions inspection in exchange for $150 to $225 per car. 

The Information further alleges that MATTHEWS and his co-conspirators would enter the vehicle identification number either manually or by scanning.  A surrogate vehicle, usually one manufactured between 1996 and 1999 that would not generate a vehicle identification number when connected to the analyzer, would be selected. Using the surrogate vehicle, an emissions report would be generated for the customer’s vehicle.  During the course of the conspiracy, at least 817 vehicles were passed by  false inspection.  Of those 817, MATTHEWS “clean scanned” 135 of those vehicles. 

Each day emissions inspection reports are electronically transferred to the North Carolina Office of Information and Technology Services in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency requires the State to conduct vehicle emissions testing in certain areas because the area exceeds national standards for carbon monoxide and ozone.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division; North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations; and the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, License and Theft Bureau.   Assistant United States Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan is prosecuting the case.



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