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US files charges in Michigan over diesel engine tampering

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Federal authorities in Michigan filed charges Wednesday against nine people in a scheme to defeat air-pollution rules by tampering with software and hardware in heavy-duty diesel engines.

The nine agreed to plead guilty, along with three companies, according to documents filed simultaneously in federal court in western Michigan.

Diesel Freak LLC, based in Gaylord, has agreed to pay a $750,000 fine. Accurate Truck Service, based in Grand Rapids, and a related company, Griffin Transportation, have each agreed to pay $500,000, court filings show.

Diesel Freak conducted remote engine reprogramming and counted Accurate Truck and Griffin Transportation as customers, authorities said.

Diesel engine modifications can “improve the horsepower, torque, fuel efficiency or other characteristics of diesel engines,” the government said in the charging document. “These unlawful modifications result in a dramatic increase in multiple pollutants being emitted by each vehicle.”

Diesel Freak rigged at least 362 vehicles, the government said.

U.S. Attorney Mark Totten and the Environmental Protection Agency planned to hold an afternoon news conference to discuss the case.

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