The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan has announced that multiple individuals and companies are facing federal charges for a years-long scheme to disable emissions controls from semi trucks.
The charges were announced on April 26. While the investigation is ongoing, the U.S. Attorney’s Office calls this case “one of the largest of its kind ever charged in the United States.”
The corporate defendants include Diesel Freak LLC, of Gaylord, and Accurate Truck Service, LLC, and Griffin Transportation, Inc., of Grand Rapids.
The individual defendants are listed below.
|Dustin Rhine||32||Indian River|
|James Sisson||42||Mt. Pleasant|
|Craig Scholten||58||Byron Center|
|Randy Clelland||33||Grand Rapids|
|Glenn Hoezee||55||Howard City|
“Today’s criminal charges send a loud message of accountability to polluters who flout our environmental laws,” said U.S. Attorney Totten. “These rules not only protect the planet; they also protect people – especially the most vulnerable. They safeguard the water we drink, the lakes we fish, and the air we breathe. To the owners and drivers of the vehicles that participated in this scheme and are now spewing harmful pollutants: get them fixed now.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office describes the emissions tampering scheme:
“…Ryan Lalone owns Diesel Freak LLC and Wade Lalone, Rhine, and Sisson were employed there. Accurate Truck Service, LLC, is owned by Larsen, Scholten, and Bos, and Swainston and Clelland were employed there. Griffin Transportation, Inc., is owned by Scholten and Bos. DeKock used to own a shipping company, at which Hoezee was employed.
Accurate Truck Service, LLC, removed or altered the hardware components of vehicles with heavy-duty diesel engines, which components controlled the vehicles’ emissions. Diesel Freak LLC reprogrammed the engine computers of the vehicles so that they would continue to function even after the hardware was removed or altered. This process is sometimes referred to as a “deletion,” that is, “deleting” the emissions controls from the vehicles. “Deleting” emissions controls from the vehicles can improve performance and fuel economy and save maintenance costs.
Griffin Transportation, Inc., and the company DeKock formerly owned engaged Accurate Truck Service, LLC, and Diesel Freak LLC to “delete” trucks owned, operated, or leased by the companies. During the conspiracy, Diesel Freak LLC was involved in at least 362 deletions; Accurate Truck Service, LLC, in at least 83 deletions; Griffin Transportation, Inc., in at least 12 deletions; and DeKock’s former company in at least 4 deletions.“
Authorities say that all three corporations and Ryan Lalone, Wade Lalone, Douglas Larsen, Craig Scholten, Ryan Bos, Robert Swainston, Randy Clelland, Scott DeKock, and Glenn Hoezee have signed plea agreements indicating their intent to plead guilty to a felony information. Dustin Rhine and James Sisson have been indicted by a grand jury.
Accurate Truck Service, LLC, and Griffin Transportation, Inc., have agreed to pay a combined $1 million fine. Diesel Freak LLC has agreed to pay a $750,000 fine subject to defense arguments regarding inability to pay.
Agencies investigating the case include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Investigation Section.
“By illegally tampering with emissions controls on diesel trucks operating throughout the United States and Canada, defendants caused the excessive release of diesel exhaust containing toxic gases and impurities harmful to public health and the environment,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard Conrad of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division. “This case highlights EPA and our law enforcement partners’ continued efforts to prosecute those who violate environmental and public health laws in the U.S. for financial gain.”