Individual Inspector Also Penalized Separately
for 6 Fraudulent Emission Tests
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) penalized Commonwealth Motors of Lawrence $15,000 for issuing six fraudulent motor vehicle inspection stickers between July 16 and November 7, 2014. In addition, Commonwealth Motors’ license to conduct automobile emissions was suspended for up to two years.
This is not the first time the DEP has cited Commonwealth Motors. In September of 2012 MassDEP and the Registry of Motor Vehicles Strike Force found Commonwealth doing fraudulent emissions testing and fined them. STORY HERE
After identifying inconsistent patterns of data from vehicles’ on-board diagnostic (OBD) system generated from Commonwealth Motors, MassDEP inspected the facility once again on November 25, 2014. Several representatives of Commonwealth Motors were interviewed, including Albenis Ortega of Lawrence, who was identified as having been the source of the fraudulent inspections.
Ortega is no longer employed at this or any station conducting certified automobile inspection and maintenance checks for the purpose of issuing stickers in Massachusetts. Ortega has also been issued a $6,000 penalty for the violations.
Among the fraudulent “clean-scan” stickers issued, one had been obtained for himself as well as for other members of Ortega’s family, including his wife’s aunt and a cousin. Generating fraudulent inspection stickers violates the emissions inspections regulations and the Massachusetts Clean Air Act.
“We investigated and took action because we must have confidence in the system, and using the vehicle inspection workstation equipment to generate fraudulent inspection stickers in this manner undermines the integrity of the auto emissions program that has been put in place to protect air quality and public health,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg.
The automobile inspection program in Massachusetts is administered jointly by MassDEP and the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), and is the primary tool for combating the emission of excess pollution from motor vehicles. Motor vehicles are a significant source of pollutants that are known to have especially adverse health effects on children, the elderly, and persons already suffering from respiratory ailments.
“This penalty should send a clear signal to the industry that the Commonwealth will not tolerate violations of the inspection program,” said Registrar Erin Deveney. “Failing to follow the proper process presents unacceptable safety risks to motorists and also undermines the program’s purpose of ensuring harmful vehicle emissions that could affect public health do not go unchecked.”
Commonwealth Motors will pay the $15,000 penalty within 30 days. The facility will have its automobile emissions station license locked out for two months. The facility will have its licensed inspection workstation restored for the remaining 22 months, provided there are no additional violations during the entire two-year period.
Ortega will pay $3,000 of his penalty and the remaining $3,000 will be suspended provided there are no additional violations for a period of two years.
Consumers who want to find out more about the vehicle inspection program can call the toll-free Massachusetts Vehicle Check Help Desk at 866-941-6277 or visit the Massachusetts Vehicle Check web site at: www.mass.gov/vehiclecheck
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.