Terry’s Exxon owners accused in auto inspection scheme

Louisiana environmental investigators arrested the owners of a Gonzales business accused of issuing bogus inspection stickers 94 times for vehicles that previously failed air inspection tests.

State Department of Environmental Quality criminal investigators on Wednesday booked Yolande and Chad Ledet, owners of Terry’s Exxon, into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on dozens of counts of filing false public documents.

A warrant for 65 counts was issued March 13 against Yolande Brissette Simmons Ledet, 44. A warrant for 29 counts was issued March 13 for Chad Ledet, 41.

Jail booking records show the Ledets have a Denham Springs address, while arrest affidavits say they have a Prairieville address.

DEQ spokesman Greg Langley declined comment Thursday, saying the matter is under investigation.

The central allegation against the Ledets, whose inspection and auto repair business is at 117 N. Airline Highway, Gonzales, is they fraudulently recorded the weights of cars, pickups and sport utility vehicles as part of the inspections.

The owners of vehicles that fail emissions tests must get repairs to get an inspection sticker.

Yolande Ledet declined comment Thursday at Terry’s.

The affidavit says dozens of bogus inspections were issued to vehicles that were within days of being sold by a neighboring used car business, Ledet’s Auto Sales.

State business and parish land records show Ledet’s Auto Sales and the underlying property are owned by Scott Ledet, who is not named in the warrants.

Scott Ledet said Thursday that he is not related to Chad or Yolande Ledet, despite the same last names, and he denied any knowledge of the scheme of which DEQ investigators are accusing Chad and Yolande Ledet.

“I have nothing to do with his business, and he has nothing to with mine,” Scott Ledet said.

Both businesses are on the former site of an old gas station along Airline once owned by a Terry Dugas and known as Terry’s Exxon.

The businesses are on separate parcels that Chad Ledet and Scott Ledet bought separately from Dugas six years apart, land records show.

Scott Ledet said he does not have a contract with Chad Ledet but brings his cars to whatever inspection business in Gonzales can handle his cars when they are ready for sale.

Chad and Yolande Ledet issued the fraudulent stickers between mid-2010 and late 2012, the affidavits say.

The five-parish Baton Rouge area was in non-attainment for ozone until January 2012, but DEQ is required to continue the emissions inspections program for five more years.