Diesel Freak via YouTube

Three diesel truck shops and 11 people face charges from the United States government for violating the Clean Air Act. A statement by the U.S. Department of Justice details the allegations against Diesel Freak, Accurate Truck Service, and Griffin Transportation—all in Michigan—which cite the defendants for tampering with emissions systems on more than 400 heavy-duty trucks. Court documents expose the modifications in question and cryptic wording used in invoices meant to disguise the work they performed.

A felony information document says that when Diesel Freak and Accurate Truck Service would delete emissions equipment from semi-trucks, they wrote line items like “ECM wiring” on customer tickets. The United States District Attorney claims they did this to disguise their illegal modifications to 14.8-liter Detroit Diesel and 15-liter Cummins ISX engines.

The Justice Department says an investigation is still ongoing in what it’s calling “one of the largest cases of its kind.” Nine people have signed plea agreements indicating their intent to plead guilty to felony charges. When the judge asked defendant Glenn Hoezee if he was pleading guilty freely, Hoezee said: “Yeah, I feel I don’t have any option, so … I don’t have the money to fight the government.”

Code words for involved parties were also mentioned in the court documents. Programmers that used software to tune engines so they’d run without emissions equipment were internally referred to as “masters,” while the hardware components were installed by “slaves” with “slave tools.” In this hierarchy, Diesel Freak was a “master” with dozens of “slaves”—including Accurate Truck Service—who were recruited to complete the modifications.

The Environmental Protection Agency and various state governments have cracked down immensely on illegal diesel engine modifications in the past few years. Many that have made headlines up to this point were related to passenger vehicles like modified Ford Super Duty pickups and others. The suit involving Diesel Freak, Accurate Truck Service, and Griffin Transportation is perhaps the most visible among Class 8 semis.

Diesel Freak will pay a $750,000 fine for its part in illegally modifying at least 362 heavy-duty diesel engines. Meanwhile, Accurate Truck Service and Griffin Transportation will pay a combined $1 million for their violations of the Clean Air Act.

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