Diesel Brothers Hit With $850,000 Fine for Tampering With Truck Emissions
The TV hosts were found guilty of violating the Clean Air Act.
The stars of Discovery Channel's Diesel Brothers television show are being ordered to pay $851,451 for their role in producing and selling modified diesel pickups that wreaked environmental havoc in the state of Utah. David "Heavy D" Sparks, Joshua Stuart, Keaton Hoskins, and Dave Kiley—a.k.a. "Diesel Dave"—were the targets of a case that reached a federal judge after being initiated by Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
The judge ruled that the defendants must pay the amount to the United States government and Davis County with additional restitution potentially on the way.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby announced in his ruling Friday that the plaintiffs may also submit their attorney fees to be paid by Sparks and Co. Per Cole Cannon, a lawyer for the Diesel Brothers, the opposing party claimed $1.2 million in fees when speaking with the judge.
Shelby confirmed that the defendants must pay $761,451 to the U.S. government with the remaining $90,000 going to Davis County. This comes less than a year after Shelby found those involved with the television program guilty of violating the Clean Air Act and Utah state law by stripping diesel pickups of their legally required emissions equipment.
This includes components such as diesel particulate filters (DPF) and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems, both of which have been the focus of multiple regulation enforcement operations by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Court documents show that none of the fines can be avoided or dismissed in bankruptcy, according to KSL.
The Diesel Brothers reality show chronicles the adventures of Heavy D, Diesel Dave and their crew as they work on various larger-than-life vehicle projects. Whether it be modifying customers' trucks or building their own to give away in sales-related sweepstakes, essentially everything is tied to making pickups bigger, louder, and more outrageous than the rest. The Discovery program is more or less the result of a diesel-related retail empire that Sparks and the others have created with customization culture at its core.
Prior to their television days, the crew made a name for themselves through YouTube and social media with all sorts of antics, often tied to or directly through "rolling coal" on other cars and, sometimes, each other.
Cannon explained to the Tribune that his clients wished for more of the court-ordered payout to benefit the state of Utah. His explanation as to why, though, was more than questionable. “My clients have always been committed to restoring air quality in Utah,” he said.
In direct contradiction to Cannon's statement, the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment found the pickups built and modified by the Diesel Brothers to be grossly over-polluting. The plaintiffs actually purchased a truck from Sparks Motors and promptly sent it to Denver for testing, in which the results showed it emitted 36 times more pollution and 21 times more particulate matter than if it was equipped with proper emissions systems.
Heavy D and his colleagues also manage and operate their own online truck marketplace, DieselSellerz. The website provides a platform for customers to buy and sell their diesel pickups, many of them modified in the same way that the Diesel Brothers are now being punished for. That said, this started before environmental activist groups and regulation agencies declared all-out war on tuned rigs that spew unburned fuel into the air.
Reed Zars, an attorney representing Utah Physicians, previously questioned Sparks about his company's social presence that was largely centered around heavily polluting trucks. There was one video in particular with a description that read, "What do you do when you see a dorky Prius driver? Watch the #BuiltDiesel smoke out a Prius." Sparks explained that the video was "created by an employee I fired after I saw that video.”
The clip, which has racked up over 800,000 views at the time of publishing, was never removed.
The duo and their fellow defendants are banned from removing diesel emissions equipment as well as selling vehicles that have been modified as such. From here on out, if they violate pollution standards they could be found in contempt of court.
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