The EPA has proven yet again that there will be consequences for those in the automotive aftermarket who are unwilling to respect the Clean Air Act. Spartan Diesel Technologies founder Matthew Sidney Geouge of Hendersonville, North Carolina, as The Drive and MarketWatch report, is now facing a year in prison for his actions in relation to selling and distributing thousands of emissions defeat devices for diesel trucks. That's on top of two fines of over a million dollars.
More precisely, Geouge has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison for conspiracy to violate the CAA, according to the Department of Justice, as well as a charge of tax evasion. Spartan Diesel Technologies is a well-known diesel tuner among the Ford crowd, with the brand’s tunes for the 6.4-liter Power Stroke claimed to be among the best quarter-mile performers on the market. Those tunes were accessible through the company’s "Phalanx" tuning devices, which we’ve seen the EPA take a stronger stance on in recent years. Like many diesel performance tunes, Spartan’s setups would often dump huge amounts of black soot out of the exhaust. This trend of “rolling coal” is commonly cited by aftermarket industry leaders as one of the key instigators of the EPA’s current CAA enforcement strategy. The EPA specifically notes that Spartan Diesel Technologies has sold more than 14,000 Phalanx tuners. According to MartketWatch, Geouge managed to bring in around $10 million from selling the emissions defeat devices.
The EPA had previously issued Spartan Diesel Technologies a violation notice for selling these tunes back in 2015, but the company never responded. That inaction was followed up by a $4.15 million fine in 2017, which Geouge allegedly tried to skirt by selling Spartan off to another company called Patriot Diagnostics. The EPA has argued that Geouge instead attempted to rebrand the business. Geouge would ultimately plead guilty to the charges levied against him in 2021. In addition to the aforementioned jail time, Geouge is slated to spend six months in home confinement, and an additional three years of supervised release after his sentence. The EPA always expects $1.3 in penalty payments, with the IRS asking for another $1.2 million. Three of George's associates have also been issued six months of home confinement and probation, in addition to community service and other financial penalties.
It is no secret that the EPA is cracking down on some of the biggest names in the aftermarket industry. That said, it is hard to come to the defense of the folks who peed in everyone's pool. Diesel tuners have to be aware of the fact that they played a huge role in the EPA’s renewed vigor surrounding the CAA, and that we’re all left to deal with the consequences. We wouldn’t be surprised if this is just the start of the Department of Justice taking things further than fines.
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