Diesel Defeat Devices Are Landing People in Prison

A 35-year-old Hendersonville, North Carolina resident who was found to have violated the Clean Air Act was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. Besides violating diesel emissions laws, he was also found guilty of tax evasion. Sidney Geouge owned Spartan Diesel Technologies, where the Environmental Protection Agency says he sold ECU tune software for Ford trucks with diesel engines. His “Phalanx” 6.4-liter Powerstroke tuning devices advertised lowering quarter-mile times. Now we know why.

These diesel devices can help create “rolling coal”

Rolling coal
Rolling coal | via YouTube

The modifications in the ECU software, along with using larger injectors, created voluminous amounts of rolling coal as well. According to Market Watch, Geouge sold over 14,000 Phalanx tuners. He allegedly used the proceeds to buy land, build a house, and buy lots of guns and ammo. 

This activity caught the eyes of the EPA and Internal Revenue Service. He was first issued a notice of violation in 2015. Then in 2017, he received a fine of $4.15 million. This allegedly prompted him to sell his company to Patriot Diagnostics. The EPA says he just changed the name of his company, but he still owned it. 

Diesel defeat devices result in more than prison time

2023 Ram Cummins badge
2022 Ram Heavy Duty Cummins 6.7-liter I-6 badge | Ram

Last year he pleaded guilty to all of the charges. He must also pay the EPA $1.3 million, and another $1.2 million to the IRS, besides the prison term. Geouge must also serve six months of home confinement and supervised release for three years. There were also co-conspirators. These men received the same home confinement, probation, and various other fines and community service as Geouge. 

The rolling coal YouTube videos and advertising have had the attention of the EPA for a while. Now, these types of diesel defeat devices are in their crosshairs. Geouge is not the only one making and installing these devices to have recently been imprisoned and fined. Some have argued that without the display of coal rolling, this would have been something that would have mostly gone unnoticed. 

But the emissions rules were set a long time ago in various states. As you already know, you can receive a fine for removing or inhibiting an emission device. In California, for instance, this began in 1975. So as much as enthusiasts would prefer the performance of engines without emissions systems, it’s the same as seat belts and yelling “fire” in a subway. You can’t remove them or do that. 

The EPA is bringing other cases to trial

Diesel exhaust
Diesel exhaust | Getty

Besides Spartan Diesel Technologies, another company recently in the news for diesel defeat devices is EZ Lynk. The EPA says it has been violating the Clean Air Act since 2016. The agency sued the company last year. It also accuses EZ Lynk of “failing to provide EPA with information about the manufacture, sale, and use of its devices.”

Some companies thought that “Warning For Offroad Use Only” labeling would clear them of violating the CAA emissions regulations. Because EZ Lynk is located in the Cayman Islands, the EPA’s approach has been different from Spartan’s. It is seeking civil penalties and fines, along with an injunction to stop sales. This is an ongoing pursuit of the EPAs. 

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