For Release: Monday, December 30, 2013
DEC Makes Two Arrests in Westchester County for Fraudulent Motor Vehicle Inspections
Multi-agency Efforts Continue to Curtail Illegal Emissions Inspections
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) arrested the owner and operator of J&K Valhalla Automotive LLC in Valhalla, a licensed New York State motor vehicle inspection station, and an employee at the station on December 19th for 643 fraudulent vehicle inspections, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. DEC's Bureau of Criminal Investigation led the investigation in partnership with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Westchester County District Attorney's office.
DEC Environmental Conservation Officers charged Kelvin Ganpat and Michael Klimek with 30 felony charges, including: possession of a forgery device (a class D felony), forgery in the 2nd degree (a Class D felony) and offering a false instrument for filing in the 1st degree (a class E felony).
"Poorly maintained or malfunctioning motor vehicle emissions control systems contribute to poor air quality and can impair respiratory health," Commissioner Martens said. "DEC is working with other agencies to stop these practices and prevent perpetrators from padding their pockets. Greed at the expense of public health and our environment will not be tolerated."
Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said, "By illegally and fraudulently circumventing the vehicle safety and emissions inspection process, these defendants endangered the vehicle operator as well as all motorists on our roads. A cooperative effort by law enforcement on the state and county level enabled investigators to turn the technological tables on these defendants by isolating and identifying their fraud, thereby holding them accountable for their actions."
The New York Vehicle Inspection Program (NYVIP) requires annual onboard diagnostic (OBDII) emissions inspections for most model year 1996 and newer light duty vehicles. During an OBDII inspection, certified inspectors must physically connect state-approved emissions equipment to a standardized connector in the vehicle being inspected. When vehicles failed inspections at J&K Valhalla Automotive, the defendants used a fraudulent device to bypass the procedure, allowing them to falsely indicate the vehicle passed inspection. They then issued fraudulent inspection stickers at a cost of $150 rather than the normal $37 per inspection.
Anyone with information on this or other environmental crimes are urged to contact the NYS Environmental Conservation Police at 1-877-457-5680 or 1-800-TIPP-DEC or report an environmental violation online on the DEC's website.