David C. Weiss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, announced today that a Middletown man entered a guilty plea yesterday to tampering with devices required by the federal Clean Air Act. The Honorable Richard G. Andrews, U.S. District Judge for the District of Delaware, accepted the plea.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Gordon W. Lindamood, 47, tampered with the onboard diagnostic systems (OBDs) of diesel trucks. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established maximum air pollutant emission standards for motor vehicles. In order to meet those standards and in compliance with the Clean Air Act, manufacturers equip motor vehicles with emission control devices that are monitored by computer software in the vehicles’ OBDs. This software, often referred to as a “tune,” detects and identifies malfunctions, illuminating a light on the vehicle’s dashboard.
Emission control devices operate to protect the environment at the expense of horsepower and fuel efficiency. Ordinarily, when a diesel truck owner removes a factory-installed emission control device, the truck’s OBD automatically renders the truck inoperable. Defendant Lindamood illegally solved this problem.
Operating from his home, Lindamood custom-altered software tunes for trucks where the owner previously removed a factory-installed emission control device, and he sold these tunes to customers throughout the United States. Lindamood’s tunes enabled diesel trucks to operate without emission control devices.
The EPA Air Enforcement Division (AED) estimates that the installation of such software results in ten to one hundred times more air pollution emissions from each altered diesel truck. These pollutants are harmful to human health and the environment.
U.S. Attorney Weiss stated, “The criminal conduct here is not insignificant. EPA estimates that over 550,000 diesel truck owners have disabled vehicle emissions controls in the past decade – leading to over 575,000 tons of excess air pollutants over the lifetime of those trucks. Everyone suffers when our air quality is degraded. I wish to recognize EPA’s efforts in investigating this case.”
“The defendant knowingly tampered with and rendered inaccurate emissions control devices required under the Clean Air Act, which affected the air quality of nearby communities,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge, Richard Conrad, EPA, Criminal Investigation Division, Mid Central Area Branch. EPA continues to hold accountable those parties who willingly violate environmental regulations for profit.”
The case was investigated by the EPA-CID and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmond Falgowski.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the District of Delaware or on PACER by searching for Case No. 22-124 RGA.