N.Y. dealer fined for emissions tampering

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Updated May 2, 2024
Pickup truck blowing smoke from exhaust pipe

A New York dealer who specializes in diesel pickup trucks was fined $50,000 and sentenced to four years of probation recently after previously pleading guilty to Clean Air Act violations for “deleting” emissions systems.

Matthew R. Talamo, 38, of New Haven, N.Y., was sentenced this month for actions in his operation of Southern Diesel Truck Co. and Southern Diesel and Off-Road LLC in Oswego, New York.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, Southern Diesel specializes in buying and reselling diesel vehicles and performing aftermarket modifications to diesel vehicles, particularly pickup trucks.

[RELATED: EPA announces stricter emissions regs for 2027 and beyond]

In pleading guilty, Talamo admitted he conspired and agreed with others to violate the Clean Air Act at Southern Diesel by tampering with emission control monitoring devices and methods on diesel pickup trucks, including both software and hardware modifications. The illegal software modifications involved “tuning” or “deleting” the trucks by tampering with the onboard diagnostic systems and disabling emission controls, which allowed the trucks to emit substantially more pollutants into the atmosphere, the attorney’s office said.

Talamo and his employees also made hardware modifications to diesel vehicles, including by removing tailpipes, mufflers, and other exhaust components and replacing them with so-called "straight pipes" that lacked diesel particulate filters and other systems designed to reduce harmful emissions.

Between January 2018 and November 2022, Southern Diesel tampered with the emission control monitoring devices and systems of approximately 244 diesel vehicles, often charging thousands of dollars per vehicle for the modifications.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes, who presided over the case, ordered Talamo to complete 150 hours of community service during his term of probation and ordered him to abide by terms of a compliance program agreed to as part of his plea agreement, including that Southern Diesel is subject to inspection at any time for potential Clean Air Act violations.

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