A San Diego federal grand jury returned an indictment on three San Marcos companies Thursday, alleging that the businesses tampered with emission control devices on their heavy-duty diesel truck fleets.
Among the companies charged were portable toilet rental company Diamond Environmental Services LP, Diamond Maintenance Services, LLC, and Diamond Solid Waste, along with Diamond’s owner Arie Eric De Jong III, 52, Diamond’s Chief Operating Officer Warren Van Dam, 52, and technician Jorge Leyva Rodriguez, 51. De Jong and Rodriguez are also charged with evidence tampering.
The companies and its leaders are accused of disabling systems on Diamond’s trucks that warn if their emissions filters become too dirty, according to prosecutors. These electronic control modules — or ECMs — are required by the EPA to be in all heavy-duty diesel trucks since model year 2008. In addition to warning the driver that an emission issue needs to be resolved, prosecutors say the devices can “limit the top speed of the truck to as low as five miles per hour, providing an incentive for the truck’s operator to repair the truck.”
Instead, the indictment alleges that Diamond had the ECMs removed from their trucks and shipped out of the state to be reprogrammed, allowing the companies to avoid the costs of removing soot and other particulate matter from the trucks’ filters.
Further, Diamond is accused of having employees punch holes in some of the trucks’ dirty filters to allow air to flow through without filtration, and prepare false smog test results to ensure trucks that were not operating properly could pass muster.
San Diego FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner said, “The alleged activity impacts every citizen and visitor to San Diego by contributing to declining air quality and increasing public exposure to airborne pollutants.”
De Jong and Van Dam previously pleaded guilty to illegally dumping the companies’ portable toilet waste into municipal sewer systems, rather than certain designated locations.
De Jong was sentenced to five months in federal prison last year, while Van Dam received five years probation.
A third Diamond employee also was convicted of perjury and sentenced to five years probation.
–City News Service
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