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Mechanic sentenced to federal prison for submitting bogus inspections

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

A Charlotte gang member who prosecutors say falsified emissions inspections on 164 cars has been sentenced to a year in federal prison.

Jose Manuel Cabrera must also pay a $10,000 fine, complete 100 hours of community service and not obtain a license to conduct emissions tests following three years of probation.

Prosecutors say Cabrera’s sentence was enhanced because of his criminal history, including membership in the gang MS-13. He was taken into custody after Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.

Cabrera worked at Carolina Tire in Pineville. From February 2011 to May 2012, he conducted 164 illegal vehicle inspections, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of North Carolina.

Prosecutors say he engaged in an illegal practice called “clean scanning.”

Cabrera would enter the inspection information for one car, but connect the testing equipment to another car being worked on at the shop or waiting to be picked up.

He charged $60 a car, prosecutors say.

Carolina Tire’s Pineville service center was suspended from conducting emissions testing for 10 years by the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.

The U.S. Clean Air Act requires that cars in 48 of North Carolina’s 100 counties be inspected to make sure they don’t exceed federal limits of compounds that are dangerous to breathe. The act prohibits falsifying records.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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