Clark County business owner convicted for tampering with pollution control systems

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The co-owner of two Southwest Washington automotive companies has been convicted for illegally removing pollution control equipment from diesel trucks.

On Thursday, 44-year-old La Center resident Tracy Coiteux was found guilty of conspiracy and 11 counts of violating the Clean Air Act. The act prohibits individuals from tampering with vehicles’ emission control systems.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington reported that Coiteux, who co-owns Racing Performance Maintenance Northwest and its affiliated company RPM Motors and Sales, was first indicted in May 2021.

Her 50-year-old husband Sean Coiteux and 44-year-old service manager Nick Akerill were indicted as well.

From January 2018 to November 2020, officials said the automotive companies charged customers $2,000 to disconnect pollution monitoring systems from their vehicles. Workers would also alter the software that determines whether a vehicle’s pollution complies with the law.

“Email and other electronic records document the conspirators’ purchase of equipment and software kits to remove the pollution control and reprogram the monitoring systems,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

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“When agents executed a court-authorized search warrant in January 2021, they found some of the emissions parts that had been removed and the replacement tailpipes. They found records detailing some 375 instances of removal of the emissions control hardware and software,” USAO added.

Investigators found that Coiteux and the other perpetrators brought in more than $500,000 within their three years of tampering with the equipment.

The defendant could be sentenced to up to five years in federal prison for the conspiracy conviction, and up to two years for each violation of the CAA, in addition to a $250,000 fine.

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Her sentencing is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 19, following her husband’s on Aug. 13.

Service Manager Akerill was sentenced to 30 days on a Clark County work crew after pleading guilty to state pollution charges.

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