Anchorage vehicle repair shop owners plead guilty to Clean Air Act violations

Nov. 12—Owners of an Anchorage repair shop this week pleaded guilty to federal charges of unlawfully tampering with federally mandated equipment and removing air pollution control equipment from dozens vehicles in violation of the Clean Air Act.

Zachary John Czubak, Patrick Thomas Fleming and Michael Wayne Hanzuk, co-owners of Arm Rippin Toys on King Street, have each been charged with a violation of the Clean Air Act.

The law directs the United States Environmental Protection Agency to limit the amount of pollutants that motor vehicles can emit. It is illegal under the law to disable hardware emission control and monitoring devices on vehicles that ensure they meet federal emission standards.

The three men tampered with and removed emissions controls from at least 37 vehicles between July 2019 and September 2020, according to federal prosecutors.

The store collected a total of about $100,000 from customers to modify these vehicles, according to a disclosure document filed in the case.

The removal and tampering caused the modified vehicles to emit “thousands of times more pollution” than they otherwise would have, federal prosecutors said in a statement. Pollutants contribute to various public health problems, such as premature death in people with heart or lung disease, heart attacks, asthma and other respiratory problems, they said.

A defense attorney involved in the case could not be reached for comment.

Czubak, Fleming and Hanzuk pleaded guilty this week to the federal charges and Czubak and Hanzuk were each ordered by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason to serve five years on probation with a $66,000 fine, according to the Alaska District of the US Attorney’s Office. Fleming is still awaiting sentencing.

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