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Press Release

Oswego Vehicle Dealership Sentenced for Conspiracy to Violate Clean Air Act

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Matthew R. Talamo, age 38, of New Haven, New York, was sentenced today in federal court in Syracuse to 4 years of probation and a $50,000.00 fine, after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act related to his operation of Southern Diesel Truck Co. and Southern Diesel and Off-Road LLC (collectively “Southern Diesel”), in Oswego, New York. United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman and Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) in New York, made the announcement.

In pleading guilty previously, Talamo admitted that he is the owner and operator of Southern Diesel, which specializes in buying and reselling diesel vehicles and performing after-market modifications to diesel vehicles, particularly pickup trucks. In pleading guilty, Talamo admitted that he conspired and agreed with others to violate the Clean Air Act at Southern Diesel by tampering with emission control monitoring devices and methods on diesel pickup trucks, including both software and hardware modifications. The illegal software modifications involved “tuning” or “deleting” the trucks by tampering with the “on board diagnostic” (OBD) systems and disabling emission controls, which allowed the trucks to emit substantially more pollutants into the atmosphere. Talamo and his employees also made hardware modifications to diesel vehicles, including by removing tailpipes, mufflers, and other exhaust components and replacing them with so-called straight pipes that lacked diesel particulate filters and other systems designed to reduce harmful emissions.

Between January 2018 and November 2022, Southern Diesel tampered with the emission control monitoring devices and systems of approximately 244 diesel vehicles, often charging thousands of dollars per vehicle for the modifications. Despite the harm to the environment, diesel vehicle owners sometimes seek such illegal modifications to avoid the costs of maintaining and repairing emission control components and to increase speed and fuel efficiency.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes, who presided over the case, ordered Talamo to complete 150 hours of community service during his term of probation and ordered him to abide by terms of a compliance program agreed to as part of his plea agreement, including that Southern Diesel is subject to inspection at any time for potential Clean Air Act violations.

EPA-CID investigated the case with assistance from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Perry prosecuted the case.

Updated April 19, 2024