ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) –  A federal judge has sentenced six North Texas men for their role in a scheme to overcharge for auto emission tests and submit thousands of fraudulent results to the state.

According to court documents, Mike’s Autocare, located on North Mesquite Street in Arlington and Tommy Tech, located on Peach Street in Arlington, performed over 7,000 fraudulent emissions tests between August 2009 and March 2011.

Sentences for the men ranged Tuesday from probation and home confinement to more than a year in prison for 32-year-old Nghi Cong Tran and 54-year-old Nghiem Van Tran. All six are Arlington residents who previously pleaded guilty to violating the federal Clean Air Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is authorized by the Clean Air Act to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards to protect the public from hazardous air pollutants. Vehicles are required to pass annual inspections to ensure that their emissions do not exceed limits for hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide and other compounds.

“Everyone has a right to breathe clean air, free from excessive vehicle emissions,” said Ivan Vikin, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Texas. “In order to protect the public from harmful air pollutants, governments must have accurate and honest vehicle emissions tests. The defendants generated thousands of fraudulent inspections and certificates and cynically lined their pockets as they thumbed their noses at our nation’s environmental laws. This is one of the largest vehicle emission fraud cases in the country and is an excellent example of government agencies working together to protect both the public and the environment.”

Prosecutors say the men used two state inspection stations in Arlington to falsify more than 7,600 emission tests from 2009 to 2011. Usually a vehicle wasn’t at one of the stations when it was supposed to be tested.
They charged up to $80 for each test, above the state-mandated maximum charge of $39.75.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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