Oklahoma City Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Violating the Clean Air Act by Tampering with the Emissions Control Systems on Heavy-Duty Diesel Trucks
OKLAHOMA CITY – Today, JAMES LOVE, 52, of Oklahoma City, pleaded guilty to a single-count felony Information charging him with Tampering with a Monitoring Device and Method Required to be Maintained Under the Clean Air Act, announced Robert J. Troester, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
"By causing the removal of pollution control devices, Love caused diesel trucks to spew pollutants into the air at a rate of up to 300 times caused by normal operating vehicles," said Acting U.S. Attorney Troester. "This conduct increased toxins in our environment linked to cancer and pulmonary, neurological, cardiovascular, and immune system damage. To engage in this conduct for financial gain will not be tolerated."
"Today, the defendant pled guilty to tampering with diesel truck monitoring systems required under the Clean Air Act" said Special Agent in Charge Christopher R. Brooks of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Texas. "He knowingly directed others to reprogram the trucks’ Onboard Diagnostic (OBD) systems to prevent the detection of alterations to the emission controls, thereby exposing the public to significant levels of air pollution."
Public records reflect that, on September 20, 2021, Love was charged by Information with violating the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act was enacted by Congress to protect and enhance the quality of the Nation’s air resources to promote the public health and welfare and the productive capacity of its population. In enacting the Clean Air Act, Congress found that the increasing use of motor vehicles has resulted in mounting dangers to the public health and welfare. The Clean Air Act protects the Nation’s air quality by, among other things, reducing vehicle emissions that pollute the air with toxins such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide. The Clean Air Act limits the emission of air pollutants from various classes of motor vehicle engines, including heavy-duty diesel engines.
Public records further reflect that Love owned and operated Southwest Diesel Service, a heavy-duty diesel engine full-service garage located in Oklahoma City. Love admitted that between February 2015 and April 2019, he directed his employees to modify the emissions control systems on heavy-duty diesel trucks. Specifically, Love directed these employees to alter the emissions control components, including removing the diesel particulate filters (DPFs) and plating the exhaust gas recirculation systems (EGRs). He then instructed others to reprogram the vehicles’ on-board computers so that the emissions control systems’ sensors failed to detect the alterations. These modifications prevented the trucks from accurately recording the pollutants they discharged into the atmosphere. They also ensured that the trucks continued to travel on public roads despite operating illegally.
At sentencing, Love faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing hearing will occur in approximately 90 days.
The investigation was conducted by the Oklahoma Environmental Crimes Task Force to include the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality’s Criminal Investigation Unit. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Brown.
Reference is made to the court filings for further information.