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Two men indicted in scheme to thwart diesel truck emissions

Spokane companies charged up to $3,500 to diesel truck owners to “delete” and “tune” their vehicles by tampering with required monitoring devices

Spokane, Wash.—A federal grand jury for the Eastern District of Washington returned an indictment last week charging Pavel Ivanovich Turlak; his companies PT Express LLC, Spokane Truck Service LLC, and Paul’s Trans LLC; Ryan Hugh Milliken; and his company, Hardway Solutions; with six counts of violating the Clean Air Act for a scheme to interfere with pollution control software in diesel trucks. Turlak was also charged with six counts of fraud in connection with COVID-19 relief funding.

Turlak’s companies are based in Spokane, Wash. Milliken’s company is based in Mary Esther, Fla.

The indictment alleges that between August of 2017 and November of 2023, Turlak and Milliken tampered with emission control monitoring devices and methods on diesel pickup trucks, including both software and hardware modifications. The illegal software modifications involved “tuning” or “deleting” the trucks by tampering with the “on board diagnostic” (OBD) systems and disabling emission controls, which allowed the trucks to emit substantially more pollutants into the atmosphere.

The indictment alleges Milliken created and sold custom software “delete tunes” to Turlak for specific vehicles based on specifications provided by Turlak. Turlak then charged as much as $3,500 to diesel truck owners to “delete” and “tune” their vehicles by tampering with and rendering inaccurate required monitoring devices.  

Despite the harm to the environment, diesel vehicle owners sometimes seek such illegal modifications to avoid the costs of maintaining and repairing emission control components and to increase speed and fuel efficiency.

The indictment also alleges Turlak falsely and fraudulently sought and received more than $300,000 in federal funding that was designated to go to eligible small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The indictment alleges Turlak and his businesses were not eligible to receive this funding, but falsely certified that they were in order to obtain it.

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