The US District Court in the Eastern District of Michigan has awarded a default judgment against two companies from Waterford.
The companies in question are Diesel Ops LLC and Orion Diesel LLC – both have been ordered the proposed $10 million civil penalty. The US, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), identified in 2021 that these companies violated the Clean Air Act by manufacturing, selling, and installing of aftermarket parts known as "defeat devices" These devices are designed to disable or bypass required vehicle emissions controls.
The two companies are owned by Nicholas Piccolo, who was also penalized with a $455,925 fine for failing to respond to an information request issued pursuant to Section 208 of the Clean Air Act. Piccolo also received a judgment of slightly less than $1 million for alleged fraudulent transfers in violation of the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act.
Future sales of defeat devices by the defendants also received a permanent injunction.
"Defeat devices violate Clean Air Act emissions requirements that protect public health and the environment, including by protecting vulnerable communities that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution," said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). "The United States will vigorously enforce the Clean Air Act, including its prohibition of illegal devices that bypass emission controls and harm the environment and public health."
"This action sends a strong message that selling and installing defeat devices on vehicles and engines will not be tolerated," said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. "Emission control systems on vehicles are designed to protect public health by reducing pollution, which is why EPA is committed to ensuring that companies comply with the Clean Air Act."
Defeat devices were discovered in Volkswagen vehicles in 2015 by the EPA, exposing the largest emissions scandal in history. This saw multiple corporate movements within the VW Group, plus the launch of a nationwide crackdown of the EPA against such devices.