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Attorney General Lockyer Files Criminal Charges Against Fuel Tank Inspectors for Environmental Fraud
(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced an arrest and the filing of criminal charges against a Central Valley gasoline tanker inspection company and three employees for faking air quality inspections and for sending fraudulent “passing” results to state officials.
“California communities have some of the dirtiest air in the country and pollution in the central valley is rapidly increasing to levels rivaling major urban areas,” said Lockyer. “Gasoline vapor is a contributor to urban smog, and the laws requiring inspections for tanker trucks are on the books to protect our air. By breaking the law, this company put personal profit ahead of public health.”
Arrested at his home today in Atwater was Bruce Hoagland, 59, President of Techland Testing, Inc., (Techland), also headquartered in Atwater. Hoagland faces felony charges of conspiracy and filing false documents with the state, and is being held on $10,000 bail. Also charged were Michael Miller, 52, of Idaho Falls, ID, and Gary Bostrom, 56, of Merced. Bostrom is expected to surrender this week.
Lockyer was joined in the legal action by Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully.
California law requires gasoline cargo tanks to pass annual inspections in order to ensure there are no vapor leaks. Vapors contain human carcinogens and hydrocarbons, which when released into the air form urban smog. Inspection companies are required to notify the California Air Resources Board (ARB) 48 hours in advance of any testing, and to provide a two-hour window in which the tests will be conducted. This information is provided so that ARB oversight inspectors can make unannounced site visits to ensure companies are fully complying with the law.
Techland came under investigation after ARB inspectors conducted undercover surveillance of Techland testing procedures in seven counties. The surveillance found that in 13 instances, Techland and its employees failed to actually conduct an inspection. State inspectors observed that employees either did not show up at all, or appeared only long enough to place stickers indicating compliance on the tanker trucks.
The complaint was filed in Sacramento Superior Court. It alleges that Techland and its employees sent notices to ARB informing them of various scheduled tests but that no testing actually occurred. The complaint also alleges that Hoagland, Miller and Bostrom all signed certificates attesting, under penalty of perjury, that the tests were in fact performed.
The complaint alleges violations in Amador, Colusa, Madera, Monterey, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties.
Lockyer’s California Bureau of Investigation Environmental Crimes Unit conducted the investigation after receiving information from the ARB concerning the nature of the testing purportedly performed by Techland. The Environmental Crimes Unit was formed by Lockyer in order to hold accountable under both civil and criminal law those who commit environmental crimes.