Former Suzuki Employee Pleads Guilty to Submitting False Report to The EPA
Wayne Powell, a former employee of American Suzuki Motor Corporation headquartered in Brea, California, pleaded guilty today in a federal court in Detroit, Michigan, to violating the Clean Air Act by submitting a false end-of-year report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Justice Department announced.
According to the plea agreement, Powell, a Government Relations Analyst for Suzuki, was responsible for submitting documents to the EPA regarding Suzuki’s compliance with motorcycle emission standards. Powell was in charge of submitting Suzuki’s 2012 application to the EPA for a “certificate of conformity,” which allows a vehicle manufacturer to sell vehicles in the United States. Rather than seek certification of each motorcycle engine family, Suzuki combined the certifications of multiple engine families and averaged their emission standards based on the total number of motorcycles in each family. At the end of the model year, Suzuki was required to submit to the EPA an end-of-year report to show that it was in compliance with emission standards.
The average that Powell created combined emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides for the 23,528 Class III model year 2012 motorcycles that Suzuki imported, distributed and sold in the U.S. The average violated the emission limit. The first end-of-year report Powell submitted to the EPA in 2013 purported to utilize “banked credits” to offset the excess emissions. However, Suzuki had not participated in the banked credit program and therefore had no credits to use. As a result, the EPA informed Powell it could not accept the report. Subsequently, on March 28, 2014, Powell submitted an amended end-of-year report to the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality in Ann Arbor in which he altered the numbers of four motorcycle engine families, resulting in a calculation that was within the emission limit. The altered numbers were false. Powell also deceitfully represented to the EPA in the email that accompanied the amended report that “[t]he computer software that we use to gather this information did not count all of the units” and that he had “corrected some mistakes on the 2012 report.”
Powell faces a statutory maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood and Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch thanked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Counsel Kris Dighe of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Craig Weier of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.