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Press Release

President of Auto Parts Distributor Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Violate the Clean Air Act

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

            WASHINGTON – The owner, president, and chief executive officer of an automotive parts distributor pleaded guilty today in Washington, D.C., to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act.

            Aaron Rudolf, 36, of Burlington, North Carolina, pleaded guilty, November 29, 2023, and agreed to pay a fine of $600,000 for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act by tampering with a monitoring device on diesel trucks. According to court documents, Rudolf founded Rudy’s Performance Parts Inc. in 2009. Rudy’s is a distributor and seller of aftermarket automotive and truck parts.

            U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia, Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Assistant Administrator David Uhlmann for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance made the announcement.

            According to court documents, Rudolf and others agreed to have Rudy’s employees disable or remove emissions control components and tamper with on-board diagnostic systems (OBDs) on approximately 300 diesel trucks between 2015 and 2017. As part of the process, Rudy’s sold, and its employees installed, “defeat devices” known as “tuners.” The tuners plugged into the vehicle’s OBD port to reprogram the electronic control unit and tamper with the OBDs, impairing its ability to monitor the operation of the vehicle’s emission control system. Rudolf and certain Rudy’s employees knew that using the tuners in this manner would tamper with the OBDs on vehicles that were not used exclusively for competition purposes. The removal of emission control components resulted in additional diesel exhaust emissions, which include multiple hazardous compounds that negatively impact human health and the environment.

            U.S. District Court Judge Trevor N. McFadden scheduled sentencing for on April 12, 2024.

            EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the case.

            Attorneys from ENRD’s Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case.

Updated November 30, 2023

Topics
Environmental Justice
Environment
Press Release Number: 23-728