Five people were arrested in a vehicle emissions investigation in Baton Rouge, and another man faces arrest, a week after a Gonzales couple was arrested at their business on similar charges.
The Baton Rouge cases involve employees at Mudiea’s Car Care, 4149 Florida Blvd., and Franklin’s Auto, 2154 Monroe Ave., who were booked on numerous counts of filing false vehicle inspection documents with the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Monday’s announcement of the Baton Rouge arrests comes a week after the Louisiana Environmental Crimes Task Force arrested a Gonzales couple — Yolande Ledet, 44, and Chad Ledet, 41, of Terry’s Exxon — on multiple counts of making false reports about vehicle emissions inspections.
The task force is made up of made up of DEQ, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division and Louisiana State Police.
Vehicle emissions inspections are required in the five-parish area of East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Iberville and Livingston because of past failures of the area to meet the federal ozone standard. Although the five-parish area appears to be in compliance, the inspections must remain as required by the Clean Air Act of 1990.
“The way the information is reported, it’s reported electronically so it’s easy to see if data is being manipulated,” said Jeff Nolan, criminal investigation division manager at DEQ.
One scheme involved increasing the weight of the vehicle being tested, because vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds are exempt from emissions testing requirements.
“Camrys were showing up weighing 10,000 pounds,” Nolan said. Toyota Camry’s generally weigh about 4,600 pounds, according to edmunds.com, an automotive information web site.
In another scheme, a vehicle that passed inspection was then used to pass other vehicles that wouldn’t have passed so different vehicles were showing up with the same vehicle identification number, he said.
The individuals booked in the Baton Rouge cases and the counts against them are:
- Jerry Franklin, 34, (Franklin’s Auto), 4683 Yvonne Drive, arrested Monday on 38 counts of filing a false public document.
- Michael Edwards, 38, (Franklin’s Auto), 3423 Anna St., arrested Monday on 24 counts of filing a false public document.
- Duc “Michael” Nguyen, 24, (Mudiea’s Car Care), 775 Doncaster Drive, arrested Monday on 28 counts of filing a false public document.
- Canh Nguyen, 48, (Mudiea’s Car Care), 775 Doncaster Drive, arrested Monday on nine counts of filing a false public document.
- Haytham Amous, 48, (Mudiea’s Car Care), 415 Bancroft Way, arrested Thursday on five counts of filing a false public document.
In addition, the investigators have an arrest warrant for Hoc D. Nguyen, 775 Doncaster Drive, on 69 counts of filing false public documents.
He is out of the country, but will be arrested when he returns, Nolan said.
Each count on conviction carries the possibility of up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine, according to DEQ.