Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ventura Man Sentenced to Probation & Lost Professional License for Smog Testing Fraud: Undercover Sting By Bureau of Automotive Repair

The California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) has conducted undercover investigations some of which have lead to criminal convictions for fraud and administrative sanctions such as losing licenses. 

In 2008, BAR conducted an undercover investigation to determine if technicians or shops were committing “clean piping” fraud. “Clean piping” occurs when a technician enters data into the official Emissions Information System verifying registration and test data results for a car that is not the car used for the actual test. 

On June 4, 2008, BAR conducted an undercover investigation which revealed that Jesus Jimenez Lopez (DOB 9/9/1962) was engaged in a “clean piping” scheme. The BAR investigation determined that Mr. Lopez entered data into the Smog Analyzer system that did not match the vehicles actually being tested at the time of the tests on three separate occasions at Ventura Smog and Test Only located in Ventura, California.  Submitting false certificates and fraudulent smog test certificates are felony offenses.

Mr. Lopez was arrested and charged due to this alleged clean piping fraud. On March  25, 2010, Lopez pled guilty to three felony counts: (1) a violation of Health and Safety Code Section 44059, (2) perjury by submitting false information through the Bureau of Automotive Repair's Emissions Information System, and (3) Vehicle Code section 4463(a), filing a false registration document. 

On June 16, 2010, the Honorable Edward F. Brodie sentenced Mr. Lopez to three years probation and 120 days in the Ventura County jail for pleading guilty to these three felony charges. In addition, pursuant to the terms of his probation, Mr. Lopez is not allowed to operate any smog testing equipment without being licensed and cannot be on the premises of any smog testing station unless his personal vehicle is being tested, or he is otherwise licensed to conduct such business by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair. 

Prior to the resolution of this criminal case, Mr. Lopez's license to conduct smog inspections was previously revoked by the Bureau of Automotive Repair in administrative proceedings. 

Attorney Commentary: This is the type of case where there is an administrative case and criminal case running parallel. In this case, the administrative case finished before the criminal case. Often the administrative boards will wait until the criminal case in concluded before taking action against a license. The loss of the license can often be an equal or greater penalty than the criminal sanction. If there is an arrest that relates to one's license or profession, it is important to consult an experienced California board attorney for strategy and representation. In many cases, the licenses can be saved. The value of those licenses can be significant over a 10 or 20 year period.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq. Any questions or comments should be directed to Tracy Green, a very experienced Bureau of Automotive Fraud attorney and automotive repair fraud attorney at tgreen@greenassoc.com.

The firm focuses its practice on the representation of licensed professionals, individuals and businesses in civil, business, administrative and criminal proceedings. They have a specialty in representing licensed businesses such as automotive repair shops and technicians before the California Bureau of Automotive Repair. Their website is: http://www.greenassoc.com/


DISCLAIMER: Green & Associates' articles and blog postings are prepared as a service to the public and are not intended to grant rights or impose obligations. Nothing in this website should be construed as legal advice. Green & Associates' articles and blog postings may contain references or links to statutes, regulations, or other policy materials. The information provided is only intended to be a general summary. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. We encourage readers to review the specific statutes, regulations, and other interpretive materials for a full and accurate statement of their contents and contact their attorney for legal advice. The primary purpose of this website is not the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service and this website is not an advertisement or solicitation. Anyone viewing this web site in a state where the web site fails to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state, should disregard this web site.

The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to create, and does not create, a lawyer-client relationship with Green & Associates, Attorneys at Law. Sending an e-mail to Tracy Green does not contractually obligate them to represent you as your lawyer, or create any type of client relationship. No attorney-client relationship will be formed absent a written engagement or retainer letter agreement signed by both Green & Associates and client and which specifies the scope of the engagement.

Please note that e-mail transmission is not secure unless it is encrypted. E-mail messages sent to Ms. Green should not include confidential or sensitive information.