Dot service station named in emissions scam

Owner denies 'Joe the Fish' was used at station

October 30, 2008

By Pete Stidman
News Editor

Attorney General Martha Coakley's office charged seven emissions inspection stations with conducting illegal clean scans of cars that should not have passed the test last week, including one from Dorchester.

Coakley's office filed a complaint in Suffolk Superior Court last Thursday against Dorchester Auto Service Inc.&emdash;located at 64 Pleasant St.&emdash;and employee George Nelson, for conducting at least 72 illegal clean scans. The complaint alleges that customers who used the codeword "Joe the Fish" would be given a fake inspection and a passing inspection certificate and sticker, a claim that the owner of the station, identifying himself only as Hassan, denied in a phone interview Tuesday.

"They must have been thinking about another station," said Hassan. "All six of my employees have not heard of that name."

Asked how the emissions tests could have been passed, he said, "We've been having problems with the equipment and with the OBD. We had some issue with the wiring, they're trying to resolve it… The lawyers are trying to work it out."

Hassan was not named in the complaint, but it did say that George Nelson, an employee, admitted to Mass Department of Environmental Protection and the RMV during a site visit that he was "Joe the Fish."

"Emissions from motor vehicles are a major source of ground level ozone, which is the main ingredient of smog and causes air pollution," said Coakley in a prepared statement. "Emissions inspection stations and inspectors must recognize that they cannot circumvent or ignore the law without legal ramifications. Our office will continue to vigorously enforce the program to put an end to these clean scan practices."

If found guilty, the civil penalty could be up to $25,000 under the Clean Air Act and up to $5,000 under the Consumer Protection Act for each illegal inspection.  

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