More than 13,000 fraudulent motor-vehicle inspection stickers were issued by seven of New York City’s busiest inspection stations, according to an undercover investigation by three state agencies.
The sting resulted in felony convictions of eight licensed inspectors and two corporations, according to a news release Wednesday from the office of Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
Operation “Ridin’ Dirtier” combined the efforts of Schneiderman’s office and the departments of Motor Vehicles and Environmental Conservation. The undercover operations at the seven stations occurred between December 2012 and February 2013.
Undercover investigators took vehicles rigged to fail a legitimate motor vehicle inspection to each station, and each station provided passing results for the vehicle, even though the inspectors performed minimal or no actual inspection on it, the release said.
Employees of several stations didn’t even perform a clean scan, but instead illegally sold inspection stickers to the undercover investigator without performing any inspection whatsoever, according to the agencies.
Inspectors legally can charge a maximum of $37 for a motor vehicle inspection; in the sting, all inspectors and stations charged significantly more for the fake inspections — some up to $150, the release said.
Charges included violations of state penal law, environmental law and vehicle and traffic law; each defendant pleaded guilty to felony charges, the release said.
Schneiderman said his office has zero tolerance for such misconduct and that the inspectors “took advantage of their expertise to cheat the system and line their pockets.”
Licensed inspection stations are legally required to use Department of Motor Vehicles’ regulated equipment and procedures to conduct inspections, the release said. Also, each motor vehicle registered in New York State must be inspected annually for safety and at least biennially for emissions.
On Monday, Gustavo Lopez, 33, of New York, a licensed DMV inspector and employee of Washington Motors Inc., a motor vehicle inspection station at 2106 Washington Ave., the Bronx, pleaded guilty in Bronx County Supreme Court to attempted criminal possession of a forged instrument, a Class E felony.
He is expected to be sentenced to a conditional discharge and a $5,000 fine on July 20.
As part of the investigation, seven other individuals and two corporations, all in the Bronx, previously pleaded guilty to issuing a false certificate and were sentenced to either probation or a conditional discharge along with a $5,000 fine.
** Luis Peralta, 40, of Yonkers, a licensed inspector and president-owner of RapidCar Inc., at 690 Southern Blvd.
** Micael Compres, 31, of the Bronx, a licensed inspector and employee of All Prestige Muffler Inc., 1705 Jerome Ave.
** Claudon Harriote, 54, of the Bronx, a licensed inspector and employee of East 222 Automotive Inc., 1135 E. 222nd St.
** David Nunez, 43, of New York, a licensed inspector and president-owner of Serpro Auto Repair Inc., 1898 Boston Rd.
** Victor Ramos, 56, of the Bronx, a licensed inspector and president-owner of All Prestige Muffler Inc., 1705 Jerome Ave.
** Lillian Tapia, 35, of the Bronx, a licensed inspector and employee of Mega Muffler Center Corp., 1301 Westchester Ave.
** Raul Torres, 41, of the Bronx, a licensed inspector and employee of Ochun Auto Repair Inc., 933 Edgewater Rd.
** All Prestige Muffler Inc., 1705 Jerome Ave., the Bronx.
** Serpro Auto Repair Inc., 1898 Boston Rd., the Bronx.