Louisiana-based Power Performance Enterprises Inc. (PPEI) and its chairman and owner, Kory B. Willis, pleaded guilty to criminal charges today in federal court in Sacramento, California. Both defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and to violating the Clean Air Act by tampering with monitoring devices on diesel truck emission control systems.
In addition to the criminal charges, the United States also filed a civil lawsuit against PPEI and Willis today in federal court in the Western District of Louisiana, alleging violations of the Clean Air Act prohibition against the sale or the manufacture of devices that circumvent, circumvent, or render ineffective emission controls. Under criminal plea agreements and a draft civil consent decree, PPEI and Willis agreed to pay a total of $3.1 million in criminal fines and civil penalties. As part of the civil settlement, Willis and the company agree not to manufacture, sell or install any device that violates emissions controls.
“The manufacture and sale of illegal suppression devices and pieces such as those targeted by today’s actions jeopardizes decades of progress in controlling harmful pollution from motor vehicles in this country,” said Deputy Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department. Resources Division. “As the plea agreements and civil settlement show, we will vigorously enforce bans on deleting devices and tracks, using all appropriate enforcement tools.”
“Defendants sold products nationwide that allowed drivers to unlawfully alter emission controls in a manner that caused a dramatic increase in emissions,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert for the Eastern District of California. “Environmental laws that control diesel pollution protect the environment and the health of the general public and are particularly important in protecting sensitive populations such as the young, the elderly and those with respiratory illnesses. Through the work of the EPA, these guilty pleas will send a message to the suppression device industry that failure to comply with federal environmental laws will result in federal charges. The US Attorney’s Office will continue to vigorously pursue those who put profit above public health and the environment.
“The actions of Power Performance Enterprises Inc. and its president and owner, Kory B. Willis, that propelled them to the top of the suppression tuning market have caused and will continue to cause emissions of hazardous compounds into the environment that could contribute to serious health problems,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown for the Western District of Louisiana. “This civil settlement proposal sends a clear message that these types of violations will not be tolerated and that those who violate these environmental laws will be held accountable.”
“The EPA estimates that the defeat devices illegally sold by the defendants are expected to release more than 100 million pounds of excess air pollutants over the lifetime of the diesel trucks in which they were installed,” said Larry Starfield, acting deputy administrator of the EPA office. enforcement and compliance assurance. “This case clearly demonstrates the negative environmental impact of defeat devices and the EPA’s commitment to vigorously enforce laws designed to protect public health and the environment.”
According to court documents, from PPEI’s 2009 incorporation until 2019, PPEI and Willis were among the nation’s most prominent developers of custom software called “tunes,” and in particular, “delete tunes.” Generally, tweaks can alter the fuel delivery, power settings, and emissions of a diesel truck. PPEI and Willis were well known for their Custom Delete Melodies, software that allows a “delete” truck to sound like it’s running normally. A suppressed vehicle is a vehicle whose emissions controls have been removed or disabled, resulting in a significant increase in air pollution emissions.
Willis and PPEI have risen to the top of the illegal tuning removal market, tuning more than 175,000 vehicles according to Willis. Willis also said that PPEI is the largest custom tuning company in the world, has more than 100,000 customers and tunes more than 500 vehicles a week. According to PPEI’s internal records, PPEI typically sold more than $1 million worth of product per month. According to EPA calculations of the estimated emissions impact, sales of PPEI suppressed tunes between 2013 and 2018 alone are expected to cause more than 100 million excess pounds of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions over the service life of diesel trucks equipped with these products.
Removing a diesel truck results in a dramatic increase in its emissions. For example, for a fully deleted truck, with all emissions equipment removed or disabled, EPA testing quantified the increase in emissions as follows: NOx increased 310 times, non-methane hydrocarbons increased from 1,400 times, carbon monoxide increased 120 times, and particulates increased 40 times. The Air Enforcement Division of the EPA released a report in November 2020 finding that more than half a million diesel pickup trucks in the United States – about 15% of the US diesel trucks originally certified with emissions controls – have been illegally deleted.
Diesel emissions include multiple hazardous compounds and harm human health and the environment. Diesel emissions have been shown to cause and aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma and lung cancer. One study indicated that 21,000 American deaths per year are attributable to diesel particulates. Exposure to polluted air in utero has also been linked to a host of problems with lifelong ramifications, including low birth weight, premature birth, autism, brain/memory disorders and asthma.
Under the proposed civil settlement, defendants PPEI and Willis will pay $1,550,000 in civil penalties and agree not to manufacture, sell or install any device that circumvents, defeats or renders inoperative motor vehicle emission controls . Defendants will not sell or transfer intellectual property associated with these products and will destroy illegal products still in stock, discontinue warranty support for products previously sold, revise marketing materials, notify customers and resellers of the law and regulations and train employees. and contractors. According to civil court documents, Willis and PPEI halted sales of specified suppression devices in fall 2019 as a result of enforcement activity by the EPA.
The defendants are expected to be sentenced in the criminal case by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez on August 23. Willis faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy, two years in prison for tampering, and on each count, a maximum fine of $250,000 or double the gross monetary gain from the offense. PPEI is liable for each count to a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the gross monetary gain from the offence. Under the plea agreements, the defendants agree to pay jointly and severally a criminal penalty of $1,550,000. Sentences will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of all applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
The criminal case was the product of an investigation by the EPA’s Criminal Investigations Division. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine T. Lydon of the Eastern District of California and Lead Attorney Krishna S. Dighe and Trial Attorney Stephen J. Foster of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Division of Environment and Natural Resources ( ENRD) of the Ministry of Justice are pursuing the criminal case. The federal civil case is being handled by Senior Counsel Nicole Veilleux of the ENRD’s Environmental Enforcement Section and Counsel Ed Kulschinsky of the Air Enforcement Division of the ENRD. EPA.
Stopping the manufacture, sale, and installation of illegal suppression devices is a priority for the EPA. To learn more, visit:https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiative-stopping-aftermarket-defeat-devices-vehicles-and-engines.
The consent decree for this settlement has been filed with the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the executive order and information on submitting comments will be available on the Department of Justice website at: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.