NEW YORK – Four New York City motor vehicle inspectors on Aug. 30 were arrested and accused of issuing more than 7,000 fraudulent inspection certificates to untested vehicles. The arrests followed an undercover investigation conducted by the New York Attorney General’s Office, Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Environmental Conservation.
"These individuals were trusted to perform state-required inspections that keep unsafe cars off the road, but instead they took advantage of their expertise to cheat the system," New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. "My office has zero tolerance for misconduct that puts New Yorkers at risk, and will continue to hold accountable those who commit these crimes."
The defendants allegedly charged secret fees for bypassing state vehicle safety and emission test requirements and performing "clean scans" -– a fraudulent process that substitutes data from a secondary vehicle. Fees charged for this illegal practice ranged from $60 to $100, according to investigators. Legal motor vehicle inspections carry a $37 fee.
The undercover investigation was conducted at the four stations where the defendants worked. The following individuals were charged:
• Arnulfo Echavarria, 61, of New York, a licensed DMV inspector and owner of GT Enterprises Auto Repair Shop, a licensed New York State motor vehicle inspection station located at 3644 Jerome Avenue, Bronx
• Wil Ramon Manzueta, 21, of Bronx, a licensed DMV inspector and employee of All Prestige Muffler Inc., a licensed New York State motor vehicle inspection station located at 1705 Jerome Avenue, Bronx
• Reynaldo A. Medina, 41, of New York, a licensed inspector at A.R. Tire Center & Services, a licensed New York State motor vehicle inspection station located at 2895 Jerome Avenue, Bronx
• Cirilo Ventura, 45, of New York, a licensed DMV inspector and employee of 1995 First Avenue Station Inc., a licensed New York State motor vehicle inspection station located at 1851 Park Avenue, New York.
The defendants are all being charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, a class D felony that carries a maximum sentence of two-and-a-third to seven years in prison. Other charges include issuing a false certificate, a class E felony carrying a maximum sentence of one and one-third to four years in jail, and illegal issuance of an emission certificate of inspection, an unclassified misdemeanor that carries a fine of $15,000 per count. These charges could result in millions of dollars in fines if they are convicted of all counts, the Attorney General’s Office said.