Owners and manager of Ridgefield, Washington, automotive shop indicted for conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act | USAO-WDWA

Seattle – A federal grand jury today charged three southwest Washington residents and two corporations with a conspiracy that involved removing federally-required pollution control hardware from diesel pick-up trucks and tampering with the trucks’ emissions monitoring systems, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman.  The owners and general manager of Racing Performance Maintenance Northwest and a related Woodland, Washington, company, RPM Motors and Sales NW, will appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on May 25, 2020.

The indictment charges company owners Sean Coiteux, 47, and his wife, Tracy Coiteux, 43, the service manager, Nick Akerill, 41, and the corporate entities they controlled with conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and eleven specific violations of the Clean Air Act for tampering with the emissions-monitoring system on vehicles when removing pollution control equipment between January 2018 and November 2020.

“By removing required pollution control devices, the defendants caused their customers’ diesel trucks to spew pollutants into the air at a rate of up to 300 times the pollution caused by compliant trucks,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Gorman.  “These defendants increased toxins in our environment that are linked to cancer, as well as pulmonary, neurological, cardiovascular, and immune system damage.  And they collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees for doing so.”

According to the indictment, between January 2018 and January 2021, the defendants charged their customers fees of about $2,000 per truck to remove emissions control systems required by federal law.  They then modified legally-required software that works to ensure the vehicle’s pollution remains within legal limits.  RPM Motors and Sales sometimes offered, as part of the sale of a truck, to remove the emissions control system after the customer purchased a truck.  Email and other electronic records document the conspirators’ purchase of equipment and software kits to remove the pollution control and reprogram the monitoring systems.  These modifications, which are known as “tunes” and “deletes,” are marketed to truck owners as improving vehicle power and performance. 

Over the three years described in the indictment, the defendants took in more than $500,000 for the modifications that violate the Clean Air Act.

“The defendants intentionally violated the Clean Air Act by installing emissions defeat equipment in passenger vehicles, resulting in increased air pollution,” said Special Agent in Charge Scot Adair of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in the Pacific Northwest.  “EPA and our law enforcement partners will continue to focus efforts on stopping the sale of these illegal devices.” 

Conspiracy is punishable by up to five years in prison.  Each violation of the Clean Air Act is punishable by up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson and Environmental Protection Agency Special Assistant United States Attorney Karla Gebel Perrin. 

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