HARLEM—A licensed Department of Motor Vehicles inspector from an East Harlem garage was one of four people charged with allegedly issuing more than 7,000 safety inspection certificates without testing the vehicles, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday.
Cirilo Ventura, 45, an employee at 1995 First Avenue Station Inc., located at 1851 Park Ave. at East 127th Street, was one of those charged with various felonies including criminal possession of a forged Instrument, issuing a false certificate and illegal issuance of an emission certificate of inspection.
The other three people charged worked at stations in the Bronx. The four stations involved are among the city's busiest, according to the attorney general's office. The charges carry jail time ranging from 1 to 7 years in prison and fines of $15,000 per count.
“These individuals were trusted to perform state-required inspections that keep unsafe cars off the road, but instead they took advantage of their expertise to cheat the system,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
The owner of 1995 First Avenue Station Inc. was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Schneiderman said the men issued false inspection certificates to potentially unsafe vehicles by performing what is known as a "clean scan." Every vehicle registered in New York must undergo an annual safety and emissions inspection.
The men charged allegedly entered data from the potentially unsafe vehicle, which was not even present at times, but then hooked up machines to a secondary vehicle capable of passing the inspection.
The men are accused of charging anywhere from $67 to $100 for the fake inspection, above the mandated $37 inspection fee.
The attorney general's office, in cooperation with the DMV and the Department of Environmental Conservation, performed an undercover investigation by taking cars rigged to fail inspection to the stations. A passing grade was attained even though little to no inspection was performed.