Motorists warned about fraudulent vehicle emissions testing -- vehicle retesting is required

For more information: 573-751-1010
Volume 37-160 For Immediate Release: June 8, 2009

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, -- In its efforts to protect air quality and maintain the integrity of the Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources notified more than 90 motorists in the St. Louis area who are required to retest their vehicles for emissions.

Motor vehicles are a leading source of air pollution in the St. Louis area due to the large number of vehicles on the road and amount of miles traveled daily. The Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program tests all 1996 and newer gas-powered vehicles and 1997 and newer diesel-powered vehicles weighing 8,500 pounds or less that are registered in the St. Louis nonattainment area. A nonattainment area is an area that does not meet the federal health-based air quality standards for ground-level ozone, a strong lung irritant. The nonattainment area includes St. Louis City, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Louis and St. Charles counties.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol and Department of Natural Resources completed an investigation that built cases against three licensed emissions inspectors who unlawfully performed vehicle emissions testing. More than 90 vehicles were fraudulently tested through a process called clean scanning.

The emissions inspectors entered the correct vehicle information into the computer, but connected the scanning equipment to another vehicle that they knew would pass. The actual Vehicle Identification Number or VIN number from the scanned vehicle downloads to the Vehicle Inspection Database alerting the Department of Natural Resources of the fraudulent inspections. Owners of some of the vehicles identified confirmed that they had paid inflated charges of $100 to $125 to fraudulently obtain the passing emissions tests.

The Department notified motorists who received unlawful emissions tests and need to have their vehicles retested. Motorists with questions about their test can contact the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Inspection and Maintenance Section at 314-416-2115 or 800-361-4827 or by email at imunit@dnr.mo.gov.

One of the offenders, Mark Banskter, was sentenced to 10 months in prison on charges of violating the Clean Air Act by falsifying auto emission tests. Banskter is a licensed emissions inspector and the owner of American Automotive Sales and Service, located at 1457 Vandeventer, St. Louis. In May 2008, the Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri State Highway Patrol reviewed the Vehicle Inspection Database and identified 32 vehicles fraudulently tested or clean scanned by Mark Banskter from October 2007 through May 2008.

Two other offenders, Michael Terry and James Dubose are charged with violations of the Clean Air Act for falsifying auto emission tests. According to the indictment, Michael Terry and James Dubose are licensed emissions inspectors employed by Sure Start Batteries and Tires, located at 6767 St. Charles Rock Road, Pagedale. The indictment alleges that in May 2008, the Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri State Highway Patrol reviewed the Vehicle Inspection Database and identified 31 vehicles fraudulently tested or clean scanned by Michael Terry from March through May 2008, and 23 vehicles fraudulently tested or clean scanned by James Dubose from February through May 2008.

The Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program is jointly administered by the Department of Natural Resources and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The program is a key component of the ongoing effort to improve air quality in the St. Louis region.

###