Co-owners of Arm Rippin Toys plead guilty to Clean Air Act Violation

    Anchorage, Alaska (KINY) - The three co-owners of Arm Rippin Toys, Inc., an Anchorage vehicle repair shop specializing in modifying, repairing, and maintaining diesel vehicles, each pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Clean Air Act.

    According to court documents, Zachary Czubak, Patrick Fleming, and Michael Hanzuk, II tampered with federally mandated monitoring devices on private and commercial diesel vehicles and removed required air pollution control equipment on at least 37 vehicles between July 2019 and September 2020.

    In July 2019, the co-owners of Arm Rippin Toys entered into an agreement to engage in "tuning and deleting" customers' diesel vehicles.

    This process involved the removal of emissions control systems which are designed to reduce pollutants being emitted.

    Under normal operating conditions, an onboard diagnostic (OBD) system detects any removal and/or malfunction of a vehicle's emissions control equipment.

    By modifying OBDS on vehicles, Arm Rippin Toy's co-owners and employees falsified, tampered with, and rendered inaccurate the vehicles' monitoring devices so that the modified vehicle could continue to function despite the removal of emissions control equipment.

    In total, Arm Rippin Toys collected approximately $100,000 for performing unlawful deletes and tunes on diesel vehicles.

    The defendants, in this case, are as follows.

    25-year-old Zachary John Czubak pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Violate the Clean Air Act and was sentenced to five years probation, a $66,000 fine, and 180 hours of community service as a condition of probation.

    29-year-old Patrick Fleming Thomas Fleming pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Violate the Clean Air Act and is awaiting sentencing.

    30-year-old Michael Wayne Hanzuk, II, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Violate the Clean Air Act and was sentenced to five years probation, a $66,000 fine, 180 hours of community service as a condition of probation, and a public statement acknowledging wrongdoing.

    "We take protecting the environment seriously in Alaska and we won't hesitate to prosecute individuals committing environmental crimes," said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. "The defendants in this case knowingly and repeated installed 'defeat devices' to remove emissions controls in dozens of vehicles violating the Clean Air Act which protects the nation's air quality by, among other things, reducing vehicle emissions that pollute the air," said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska.

    Special Agent in Charge Scot Adair of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division in Alaska also gave a statement.

    "Installing emissions defeat equipment in passenger vehicles results in a massive increase in air pollution from even a single vehicle. EPA and its law enforcement partners will continue to hold accountable those who jeopardize human health and the environment for the sake of profit."

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Criminal Investigations Division investigated the case.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Charisse Arce and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel Karla Perrin prosecuted the case.

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