(CBS4) — Denver-based federal prosecutors have negotiated plea deals with representatives of two out-of-state diesel repair shops which had the alleged help of a Colorado business for several years while the three performed emissions “delete jobs” on the engines of nearly one hundred large diesel trucks.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado (USACO) made the announcement in mid-April that ownership of Endrizzi Diesel of Bolivar, Missouri, and Pro Diesel Inc. of Des Moines, Iowa, reached plea agreements with its prosecutors.
The illegal modifications violated the Clean Air Act, the USACO stated in its press release. Ownership of each business has pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to defraud the United States. Sentencing hearings for both are scheduled in June.
Meanwhile, no case against the Colorado company has apparently been filed.
When asked whether the Colorado company would be facing charges, a USACO spokesperson told CBS4, “our office has no comment on this matter.”
The Colorado company was identified in the press release and case documents by the initials “E.D.” But the plea agreement declares the shop’s location as Windsor, Colorado.
An online search shows the only diesel repair shop located in Windsor is Elite Diesel Services.
Per the facts of the case as stated in the plea agreement, workers at “E.D.” joined those at Endrizzi by a remote connection to disable emission control components on heavy-duty Class 8 trucks and semis belonging to Endrizzi customers. Specifically, “E.D.” employees used an online program called “Team Viewer” to run software programs that would reprogram or “tune” the monitoring functions of the vehicles’ on-board diagnostics systems.
This occurred between January 2017 and December 2020, investigators estimated. “E.D.” was paid $149,000 by Endrizzi for work on 60 trucks.
“E.D.” was paid $76,000 by Pro Diesel for similar work that happened between July 2017 and May 2020, per investigators. Employees tampered with the emissions devices on 34 trucks through that company.
“E.D.” employees also worked as online consultants as the Missouri and Iowa shop employees removed or altered hardware components of the emissions equipment as well, the plea agreement explained.
The goal of the modifications was to save money.
“This reduces the high costs associated with maintaining or repairing components of the emissions control systems on heavy-duty diesel trucks,” USACO stated in its press release. “However, as a consequence, tampered vehicles spew substantially more deleterious pollutants…presenting a risk to the environment and public health.”
The USACO referenced tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which found that completely deleting a diesel truck’s emissions controls can increase the truck’s tailpipe emissions of nitrous oxide by a factor of approximately 310 times, tailpipe carbon monoxide by a factor of approximately 120 times, tailpipe non-methane hydrocarbons by a factor of approximately 1,100 times, and tailpipe particulate matter by a factor of approximately 40 times.
The plea agreement notes that federal agents searched Elite Diesel’s premises in late 2018, but it and the other shops continued to work together on customers trucks after the search, using texts instead of faxes to communicate.
CBS4 visited the Elite Diesel Service location at 701 Automation Drive in Windsor on Saturday. The facility was empty and stripped of any signage. A call placed to the business requesting comment has not been returned.
Online information from the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office shows the Windsor location is associated with an Elite Diesel Service shop located in Cheyenne (along with an office in Laramie). CBS4 messaged that Cheyenne business through its website Sunday. Any response from the business will be included in an update to this story here.