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Aug 15, 2023

Western District of Michigan

Defendants Accused of Disabling Emissions Controls on Semi-Trucks; Some Plea

Defendants Accused of Disabling Emissions Controls on Semi-Trucks; Some Plea Agreements Signed, Investigation Ongoing in One of the Largest Cases of Its Kind

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten today announced that three companies and eleven individuals have been charged with violating the Clean Air Act in an aftermarket scheme to disable the emissions control systems of semi-trucks. While the investigation is ongoing, even now this case is one of the largest of its kind ever charged in the United States. The corporate defendants are Diesel Freak LLC, of Gaylord, and Accurate Truck Service, LLC, and Griffin Transportation, Inc., of Grand Rapids.

"Today's criminal charges send a loud message of accountability to polluters who flout our environmental laws," said U.S. Attorney Totten. "These rules not only protect the planet; they also protect people – especially the most vulnerable. They safeguard the water we drink, the lakes we fish, and the air we breathe. To the owners and drivers of the vehicles that participated in this scheme and are now spewing harmful pollutants: get them fixed now."

The individual defendants are:




Ryan Lalone



Wade Lalone



Dustin Rhine


Indian River

James Sisson


Mt. Pleasant

Douglas Larsen



Craig Scholten


Byron Center

Ryan Bos



Robert Swainston



Randy Clelland


Grand Rapids

Scott DeKock



Glenn Hoezee


Howard City

The three companies, Ryan Lalone, Wade Lalone, Douglas Larsen, Craig Scholten, Ryan Bos, Robert Swainston, Randy Clelland, Scott DeKock, and Glenn Hoezee have all signed plea agreements indicating their intent to plead guilty to a felony information. Dustin Rhine and James Sisson were indicted by a federal grand jury. Arraignments and change of plea hearings will occur on dates to be set by the U.S. District Court.

According to public records filed in the case, Ryan Lalone owns Diesel Freak LLC and Wade Lalone, Rhine, and Sisson were employed there. Accurate Truck Service, LLC, is owned by Larsen, Scholten, and Bos, and Swainston and Clelland were employed there. Griffin Transportation, Inc., is owned by Scholten and Bos. DeKock used to own a shipping company, at which Hoezee was employed.

Accurate Truck Service, LLC, removed or altered the hardware components of vehicles with heavy-duty diesel engines, which components controlled the vehicles’ emissions. Diesel Freak LLC reprogrammed the engine computers of the vehicles so that they would continue to function even after the hardware was removed or altered. This process is sometimes referred to as a "deletion," that is, "deleting" the emissions controls from the vehicles. "Deleting" emissions controls from the vehicles can improve performance and fuel economy and save maintenance costs. Tampering with or removing emissions controls can drastically increase the emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and non-methane hydrocarbons found in vehicle exhaust. Exposure to and inhalation of these chemicals at greater levels is associated with serious health risks.

Griffin Transportation, Inc., and the company DeKock formerly owned engaged Accurate Truck Service, LLC, and Diesel Freak LLC to "delete" trucks owned, operated, or leased by the companies. During the conspiracy, Diesel Freak LLC was involved in at least 362 deletions; Accurate Truck Service, LLC, in at least 83 deletions; Griffin Transportation, Inc., in at least 12 deletions; and DeKock's former company in at least 4 deletions. Accurate Truck Service, LLC, and Griffin Transportation, Inc., have agreed to pay a combined $1 million fine. Diesel Freak LLC has agreed to pay a $750,000 fine subject to defense arguments regarding inability to pay. Any fine is a part of the criminal sentence and ultimately within the discretion of the sentencing judge.

"By illegally tampering with emissions controls on diesel trucks operating throughout the United States and Canada, defendants caused the excessive release of diesel exhaust containing toxic gases and impurities harmful to public health and the environment," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard Conrad of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division ("EPA-CID"). "This case highlights EPA and our law enforcement partners’ continued efforts to prosecute those who violate environmental and public health laws in the U.S. for financial gain."

The charges in an indictment are merely accusations and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. The government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A conviction for conspiracy is subject to a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000 for an individual, $500,000 for an organization, or twice the gain from the offense, among other penalties. A conviction for violating the Clean Air Act carries a prison term of up to two years and the same fines, among other penalties.

The purpose of the Clean Air Act is, among other things, "to protect and enhance the quality of the Nation's air resources so as to promote the public health and welfare and the productive capacity of its population." In passing the Act, Congress found that "the increasing use of motor vehicles[] has resulted in mounting dangers to the public health and welfare."

U.S. Attorney Totten also noted that those with information about other companies and individuals involved in tampering with emissions controls in connection with this investigation can contact EPA-CID at (734) 214-4913. General environmental violations can be reported to EPA through the website https://echo.epa.gov/report-environmental-violations.

EPA-CID is investigating the matter with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Investigation Section. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin M. Presant is prosecuting the cases.


For Immediate Release Topic