OGDEN — The operator of the South Ogden garage convicted in connection with processing fraudulent auto emission certificates for cars brought to the locale has been sentenced.
William Lastre-Moreno pleaded guilty in November to three third-degree felony charges in the case, a count of violating the Utah Air Conservation Act and two counts of forgery. On Wednesday, 2nd District Court Judge Jennifer Valencia sentenced him to 60 days of monitoring via an ankle monitor and fined him $800.
Christopher Crockett, deputy Weber County attorney, said Lastre-Moreno will be able to go to work and medical appointments per the sentence. Otherwise, he’ll be confined to his home for the 60 days.
At sentencing, Valencia called Lastre-Moreno’s offenses a crime against society “because this is the air we all breath,” Crockett said. It was the first time criminal charges had been filed in such a case, notable in light of efforts to combat air pollution along the Wasatch Front. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency even took part in the investigation.
The probable cause affidavit in the matter says Lastre-Moreno, operator of 40th Street Auto at 749 40th St. in South Ogden, used duplicate emissions certificate numbers to register more than 200 cars. Every auto needing an emissions test is to get a unique certificate number indicating it complies with state emissions rules, a requirement before registering an auto and meant to keep the dirtiest vehicles off Utah roads. Lastre-Moreno, however, would use certificate numbers of passing autos on cars that hadn’t passed emissions testing or weren’t even tested and then file paperwork with the state to improperly register the cars.
Another 50 or so cars that were the subject of failed or aborted emissions tests carried out by Lastre-Moreno were also subsequently registered with the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles with invalid or duplicate emissions certificates, the affidavit states.
Lastre-Moreno initially faced 12 charges, but pleaded guilty to three as part of a plea deal.
Owners of autos in Weber, Cache, Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties are required to periodically test their cars’ emissions systems as part of the vehicle registration process to make sure the vehicles aren’t emitting excessive amounts of pollution. Weber County doesn’t meet EPA guidelines for healthy air, and emissions testing here, as in the four other Utah counties, is meant to help fight pollution.
Lastre-Moreno isn’t necessarily the first mechanic to skirt the laws governing emissions certificates.
But his case was “particularly egregious,” Crockett said. “It’s definitely an issue we continue to look into.”