Florida men admit to violating the Clean Air Act

Two Florida men have admitted to tampering with diesel truck emissions systems in order to skirt the provisions of the 1963 Clean Air Act. The men, aged 39 and 62, entered their guilty pleas in a federal court in Miami. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida announced the pleas on Feb. 1. The men’s sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place on April 7. They could both be sentenced to up to five years in a federal prison.

More than 1,700 vehicles involved

According to court papers, the two men were paid in excess of $371,000 to tamper with the emissions systems of more than 1,700 diesel trucks between January 2018 and March 2021. Federal prosecutors say the men tampered with the trucks’ onboard diagnostic systems by manipulating or deleting files. This made it appear to inspectors that the trucks were in compliance with the provisions of the Clean Air Act when they may not have been. The men are facing federal crime charges because the Clean Air Act is a federal law.

The Clean Air Act

The matter was taken seriously by federal authorities because the Clean Air Act was passed to limit pollution that poses a threat to public health. Prosecutors say that the two men’s scheme resulted in copious amounts of hydrocarbon and acidic acids being released into the environment.

Federal plea agreements

These two men have likely chosen to plead guilty because the penalties they face are harsh and their chances of being acquitted by a federal jury are slim. U.S. prosecutors rarely lose in court because they rarely argue in court, as almost all federal prosecutions are resolved with plea bargains. Prosecutors like plea bargains because they eliminate risk and keep things moving, and defendants usually agree to them because they are offered significantly more lenient sentences in return for their guilty pleas.