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Co-owner of diesel service and sales companies pleads guilty to tampering with pollution controls

Admits he directed employees to tamper with federally required pollution control hardware on hundreds of diesel trucks for $538,477 in fees

Tacoma, Wash.—The co-owner of two businesses involved in diesel truck sales and service pleaded guilty on Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to violating the Clean Air Act, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Sean Coiteux, 50, admits he directed employees to tamper with federally required pollution control hardware on hundreds of diesel trucks and with the trucks’ pollution monitoring systems.

Coiteux and his wife, Tracy Coiteux, 46, own Racing Performance Maintenance Northwest of Ridgefield, Wash., and a related Woodland, Wash., company, RPM Motors and Sales NW. Racing Performance Northwest also pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act. RPM Motors and Sales pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act. Coiteux and both companies are scheduled for sentencing by U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle on June 24.

In the plea agreement, Coiteux admits that between January 2018 and January 2021, he directed employees to delete pollution control software and devices on diesel trucks it sold or serviced. Coiteux’ companies charged between $1,000 and $2,000 for this work. Over three years Coiteux’ companies did this work on approximately 375 diesel trucks, for $538,477 in fees.

“By removing required pollution control devices, the defendants caused their customers’ diesel trucks to spew pollutants into the air at a rate of up to 1,200 times the pollution caused by compliant trucks,” said U.S. Attorney Gorman. 

According to records in the case, Coiteux directed his employees to modify legally required software that works to ensure the vehicle’s pollution remains within legal limits. RPM Motors and Sales sometimes offered, as part of the sale of a truck, to remove the emissions control system after the customer purchased a truck. 

Email and other electronic records document the conspirators’ purchase of equipment and software kits to remove the pollution control and reprogram the monitoring systems. These modifications, which are known as “tunes” and “deletes,” are marketed to truck owners as improving vehicle power and performance. 

Tracy Coiteux, 46, remains charged in the case and is scheduled for trial on May 20.

In September 2022 service manager, Nick Akerill, 44, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to a Motor Vehicle Emission Control Systems Violation and was sentenced to serve on a work crew for 30 days.   

Each violation of the federal Clean Air Act is punishable by up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than six months in prison for Coiteux. Judge Settle is not bound by the recommendation and can impose any sentence allowed by law.

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