A Middletown man entered a guilty plea to tampering with devices required by the federal Clean Air Act.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Gordon W. Lindamood, 47, worked on the onboard diagnostic systems (OBD) of diesel trucks.
In order to comply with the Clean Air Act, manufacturers equip motor vehicles with emission control devices that are monitored by computer software in the vehicles’ OBDs. This software, often referred to as a “tune,” detects and identifies malfunctions by way of a “trouble light” on the dashboard.
Ordinarily, when a diesel truck owner removes a factory-installed emission control device, the truck’s OBD automatically disables the truck. Lindamood is accused of working around the system.
According to the prosecution, Lindamood altered software for trucks in cases where the owner previously removed a factory-installed emission control device. He sold the “tunes” to customers throughout the United States, allowing diesel trucks to operate without emission control devices.
The practice is said to be widespread around the nation.
The EPA Air Enforcement Division (AED) estimates that the installation of such software results in ten to one hundred times more air pollution emissions from each altered diesel truck.
U.S. Attorney David Weiss stated, “The criminal conduct here is not insignificant. EPA estimates that over 550,000 diesel truck owners have disabled vehicle emissions controls in the past decade – leading to over 575,000 tons of excess air pollutants over the lifetime of those trucks. Everyone suffers when our air quality is degraded. I wish to recognize EPA’s efforts in investigating this case.”
“The defendant knowingly tampered with and rendered inaccurate emissions control devices required under the Clean Air Act, which affected the air quality of nearby communities,” said acting special agent in charge, Richard Conrad, EPA, Criminal Investigation Division, Mid Central Area Branch.
The case was investigated by the EPA-CID and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmond Falgowski.