Monday, Dec. 6, 2010 | 5:06 p.m.
Federal judges in Las Vegas sentenced two Nevada men to probation for felony violations of the Clean Air Act after they manipulated test results in hundreds of Nevada vehicle emissions inspections, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden announced today.
Adolpho Silva-Contreras, 47, was sentenced today by District Judge Gloria Navarro to three years of probation. Silva-Contreras pleaded guilty in September to one count of violating the Clean Air Act by manipulating results from an emissions monitoring device. Eduardo Franco, 30, was sentenced to five years of probation Friday by District Judge Roger Hunt. Franco pleaded guilty to violating the federal act in August.
A grand jury in Las Vegas indicted Silva-Contreras and Franco in January. The two men are among 10 defendants accused of causing false test results to be transmitted to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. The cases were not connected other than in the methods the testers used to cause the false reports.
Typically, the testers would use a vehicle they knew would pass the emissions test to produce a false result for a vehicle that couldn't otherwise pass the test. In one example, Franco was paid an additional $20 to ensure a passing result.
The evidence showed Franco falsified 575 test results. Silva-Contreras falsified 248 test results, typically in exchange for a fee exceeding the standard payment.
“Accurate emissions testing is obviously a very important tool in ensuring that vehicles are safe and not polluting our air,” Bogden said. “Persons who attempt to circumvent this testing and make false statements about the testing for illegal gain are violating federal laws and will be prosecuted.”
The cases came to the attention of Nevada authorities in 2008 when the DMV hired a contractor to build a vehicle identification database to find possible emissions testing fraud. The DMV discovered that in 2008 alone, there were more than 4,000 false vehicle emissions certificates issued in Las Vegas. The database allows investigators to check the vehicle identification number that the emissions tester enters against the vehicle actually tested. Las Vegas and Clark County are required by the EPA to have emissions testing because of the area’s concentrations of carbon monoxide and ozone.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the DMV. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Yang from Nevada and Senior Trial Attorney J. Ronald Sutcliffe of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.