Co-Owners of Arm Rippin Toys Plead Guilty to Clean Air Act Violation

Co-Owners of Arm Rippin Toys Plead Guilty to Clean Air Act Violation

ANCHORAGE – 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 involves the removal of emissions control systems which are designed to reduce pollutants being emitted from the vehicles. Under normal operating conditions, an on-board diagnostic (OBD) system will detect 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 or deletion of emissions control equipment. In total Arm Rippin Toys collected approximately $100,000 for performing unlawful deletes and tunes on diesel vehicles.

“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 repeatedly 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.”

“Installing emissions defeat equipment in passenger vehicles results in a massive increase in air pollution from even a single vehicle,” said Special Agent in Charge Scot Adair of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Alaska. “EPA and its law enforcement partners will continue to hold accountable those who jeopardize human health and the environment for the sake of profit.”

Defendants in this case are:

  • Zachary John Czubak, 25, 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.
  • Patrick Fleming Thomas Fleming, 29, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Violate the Clean Air Act and is awaiting sentencing.
  • Michael Wayne Hanzuk, II, 30, 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.

The removal or disabling of a vehicle’s emissions control system can increase particulate matter (PM) by a factor of about 40 times; nitrogen oxides (NOx) by a factor of about 310 times; carbon monoxide (CO) by a factor of about 120 times; and non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) by a factor of about 1,100 times.

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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