3 Charged With Falsifying Emissions Certifications
The two owners and an inspector at a Wilmington auto import shop face misdemeanor charges for allegedly taking telephone orders for smog certificates without ever seeing or inspecting the cars.
Officials from the state Bureau of Automotive Repair and the Department of Consumer Affairs began investigating the trio after they received an anonymous tip last year that ASP Imports at 841 W. Anaheim St. in Wilmington was selling smog documents illegally, said Mike Qualls, a spokesman for Los Angeles City Atty. James K. Hahn.
Under California law, vehicles must pass an automated emissions test every two years before their registration may be renewed.
Charged in the case are shop owners Shirin Niaki, 33, and her husband George Albas (Johnny) Niaki, both of Park La Brea, and smog check inspector Sohail Fahmian, 40, of Redondo Beach, who goes by the name Vincent Castagliola.
Each is charged with one count of falsifying smog certificates and one count of issuing the falsified documents as authentic, according to Deputy City Atty. Fay Chu. Each of the counts carries a maximum penalty of one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
George Niaki said in a telephone interview that Fahmian leased space from ASP Imports for his own smog certification business. Niaki said he and his wife were not aware that there was any wrongdoing at the smog check station.
Fahmian could not be reached for comment. Niaki said Fahmian gave up his lease at the shop a few weeks ago.
Undercover investigators made three purchases from ASP Imports, Qualls said. During the first purchase, investigators reportedly bought two smog certificates for $50. On the second trip, the officials bought five certificates for $130, and on their third trip, they bought 10 certificates for $260, Qualls said. Each time, he said, investigators telephoned the shop with their vehicle information and then picked up the documents without ever taking a car to the shop.
The three defendants are scheduled to be arraigned May 24 in Los Angeles Municipal Court.