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Las Vegas man added to EPA's fugitive list (5/14)

May 14, 2010
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Joseph DeMatteo of Clark County, Nevada has been added to the EPA fugitive Web site for failing to surrender to federal law enforcement authorities following his indictment for criminal violations of the Clean Air Act, according to an agency press release.

DeMatteo was one of 10 Nevada-certified emissions testers indicted on Jan. 6 by a federal grand jury for one felony count for falsifying vehicle emissions test reports in Las Vegas between Nov. 2007 and May 2009. The maximum penalty for the felony violations contained in the indictment includes up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Las Vegas is required to perform emissions testing because currently it violates ozone and carbon monoxide standards. Ozone is linked to a number of serious health problems, ranging from aggravation of asthma to increased risk of premature death in people with heart or lung disease. Carbon monoxide can cause harmful health effects by reducing oxygen delivery to the body’s organs.

All of the defendants, including DeMatteo, are alleged to have engaged in a practice known as “clean scanning” vehicles. The scheme involved entering the vehicle identification number for a vehicle that would not pass the emissions test into the computerized system, then connecting a different vehicle the testers knew would pass the test. The allegedly falsified data was recorded on the vehicle inspection report, and an inspection report passing the vehicle was issued for anywhere from $10 to $100 more than the usual emissions testing fee. It is a crime to knowingly alter or conceal any record or other document required to be maintained by the Clean Air Act. An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Launched December 2008, EPA’s fugitive Web site contains information about individuals who have failed to turn themselves in after having been indicted and charged with or convicted of violating environmental laws. The site also shows the public how to contact EPA if they have information about where a fugitive may be found. To date, information from citizens or law enforcement organizations have assisted in the arrest or capture of three fugitives and the surrender of two other fugitives. Of those, four were sentenced and one was found not guilty.

Since some fugitives may be armed and dangerous, the public should not try to apprehend any of the individuals. The Web site contains a form that the public can use to report information related to their identity and/or current location. EPA reviews all reports submitted.

Citizens may also report the information to their local police or, if outside the United States, to the nearest U.S. Embassy.

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