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Michigan man sentenced for conspiracy to ‘delete’ emissions controls from hundreds of semi trucks

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A Michigan man has been sentenced in connection with a years-long scheme to ‘delete’ emissions controls from hundreds of semi trucks.

On January 9, 2024, Dustin Rhine was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan to 12 months of probation, a $2,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment.

Rhine previously pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation – Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG).

In April 2023, Rhine was one of eleven individuals and three companies charged in a widespread diesel emissions tampering scheme that the U.S. Attorney’s Office called “one of the largest of its kind ever charged in the United States.”

The companies that were charged are Diesel Freak LLC, of Gaylord, and Accurate Truck Service, LLC, and Griffin Transportation, Inc., of Grand Rapids. 

See the table below to view the charged individuals.
DefendantAgeCity
Ryan Lalone47Gaylord
Wade Lalone44Gaylord
Dustin Rhine32Indian River
James Sisson42Mt. Pleasant
Douglas Larsen51Wayland
Craig Scholten58Byron Center
Ryan Bos45Grandville
Robert Swainston50Hopkins
Randy Clelland33Grand Rapids
Scott DeKock45Hudsonville
Glenn Hoezee55Howard City

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.

Seven individuals and two companies have already been sentenced in connection with the diesel tampering scheme.

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.

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