Las Vegas, Nevada - A Las Vegas man was sentenced today to six months in prison, three years of supervised release, and six months of home confinement for falsifying vehicle emission test results for over 1,000 vehicles, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.
Henry Alberto Batista, 30, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Lloyd D. George, and he was permitted to self-surrender to prison by Oct. 3, 2014. Batista pleaded guilty in March to one count of making a false statement to a government agency. Batista’s brother, Luis Batista, also pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a government agency, and was sentenced in May to time served and three years of supervised release. Luis Batista served approximately seven months in prison and is now on home confinement.
“The Batista cases are a continuation of the District of Nevada’s efforts to prevent emissions fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “Ten individuals were convicted of this type of offense in Nevada between 2010 and 2012. We will continue to work with the EPA and our other law enforcement partners to protect the public and the environment.”
“Complete and accurate tests of vehicle emissions are necessary to reduce harmful air pollutants,” said Jay M. Green, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Nevada. “The violations in this case took place in Clark County, Nev., which has been designated a ’serious’ nonattainment area for carbon monoxide from vehicle emissions. Violators who submit false reports or incorrect data undermine EPA’s commitment to protecting clean air for all Americans.”
According to the plea agreement, Batista was a licensed Nevada emissions inspector. Between July 2009 and Dec. 19, 2012, while he was working for a company in Las Vegas that was licensed by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to conduct emissions testing, he knowingly made false material statements, representations, or certifications in approximately 1600 records. Batista falsified emissions certificates for vehicles that could not pass the emissions tests by using substitute vehicles that would pass the test or by using a computer programmed emulator to deceive the emissions analyzer into accepting data for the vehicle that could not pass the test.
The cases became a priority in 2008 when the DMV hired a contractor to build a vehicle identification database to find possible emissions testing fraud. DMV discovered that in 2008 alone, there were over 4,000 false vehicle emissions certificates issued in Las Vegas. The Database allows investigators to check the vehicle identification number that the emissions tester enters against the vehicle actually tested. The Clean Air Act requires Las Vegas and the surrounding Clark County, as part of their State Implementation Plan, to have emissions testing because the area is in serious non-attainment for carbon monoxide and ozone. The Batista case presented new challenges to Nevada DMV because of the sophisticated technology used by the Batistas which allowed them to use computer software to simulate the presence of a real vehicle and transmit false information to the emissions analyzer equipment.
The case was investigated by the EPA, Nevada DMV, and FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Roger Yang and Senior Trial Attorney J. Ronald Sutcliffe of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.