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Santa Clara County Smog Check Technician Pleads Guilty to Illegally Certifying Cars

Charged with 25 felony counts of "clean plugging"

February 4, 2011
Glenn Mason – (916) 574-8168
Russ Heimerich – (916) 574-8171

SACRAMENTO - A Santa Clara County Smog Check Technician pled guilty today to four felony counts of issuing illegal Smog Check Certificates following undercover operations by the Department of Consumer Affairs/Bureau of Automotive Repair (DCA/BAR), in conjunction with the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Videotaped surveillance, station inspections, and undercover vehicle operations were conducted at All Smog & Test Only on Commercial Street in San Jose on different days. This investigation confirmed that Minh Van Bui knowingly performed 25 illegal smog certifications on vehicles via "clean plugging" methods.

"Clean plugging" consists of using another vehicle's properly functioning On Board Diagnostic (OBD II) system to generate passing diagnostic readings for the purpose of illegally issuing smog certificates to vehicles that are not in smog compliance and/or not present for testing.

"The bottom line is clean plugging is against the law," said DCA Director Brian Stiger. "It is both a crime and a violation of the Health and Safety Code. Dirty air is a problem for everyone, and clean plugging lets polluting vehicles continue to harm California's air quality."

"The goal of California's Smog Check Program is to reduce air pollution by bringing vehicles into compliance with emissions standards," said BAR Chief Sherry Mehl. "High polluting vehicles need to be either repaired or retired in order to protect the air we breathe. When stations or technicians cheat, everyone suffers."

Mr. Bui was sentenced to 60 days in jail, three years of formal probation, 100 hours of community service, and was forever banned from working in the Smog Check industry. Mr. Bui has surrendered his Smog Check Technician's license.

BAR is also seeking to take administrative action against the Automotive Repair Dealer registration and Smog Check station license for All Smog & Test Only. BAR is seeking permanent revocation of the shop's Auto Repair Dealer registration and Smog Check station license.

Shops have the right to contest any actions taken at an administrative hearing.

BAR's Accusation against Mr. Bui and All Smog & Test Only can be found here.

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