United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
Defendants Falsely Passed More Than 1,000 Vehicles During “Clean Scan” Conspiracy
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two Charlotte men have been sentenced for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act by conducting false vehicle emission inspections, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Special Agent in Charge Maureen O’Mara of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID), Atlanta Area Office; Greg McLeod, Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI); and Jack D. Coltrane Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles License and Theft Bureau (NCDMV L&T).
U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. sentenced today Ronald Eugene Kinard, 46, of Charlotte, to six months in prison and two years of supervised release, during which he will serve an additional six months of home detention. Kinard was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and to perform 50 hours of community service. Kinard’s co-conspirator, Jack Bard Haney, 48, also of Charlotte, was previously sentenced on November 14, 2012, by Chief U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. to serve six months in prison and one year of supervised release, during which he will serve an additional 6 months of home detention. Both defendants are also prohibited from conducting vehicle inspections in the future.
According to filed documents and related court proceedings, at the time of their criminal conduct, Kinard was the owner-operator of Autoworks, a local vehicle repairs shop, and Haney was one of his employees. Both were licensed by the state of North Carolina to conduct onboard diagnostic (OBD) inspections to test federally-mandated vehicle emissions. Court records show that the defendants used surrogate vehicles to falsely pass vehicles that would have failed emissions inspections, an illegal activity known as “clean scanning.” Court documents indicate that from about January 2010 through August 2011, Kinard conducted more than 1,180 false vehicle inspections, and Haney conducted more than 100 false inspections. In exchange for the false passing results, the defendants typically charged more than the standard inspection fee, sometimes as high as $100 per vehicle.
The Clean Air Act requires vehicle emission inspections in geographic regions that exceed national ambient air quality standards. According to the EPA, the Charlotte metropolitan area exceeds the 8-hour standard set for Ozone, a potent irritant that can cause lung damage and other types of respiratory problems.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the EPA’s criminal investigation division, NC SBI’s Diversion and Environmental Crimes Unit, and NC DMV’s License and Theft Bureau, with assistance by the North Carolina Division of Air Quality, Mobile Sources Compliance Branch. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Steven R. Kaufman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.