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Northern California Man Sentenced in Scheme to Defraud NHTSA's "Cash for Clunkers" Program


On September 25, 2012, James Taylor, owner of Pinole-Rodeo Auto Wreckers, Rodeo, California, was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Oakland, California, for falsely certifying that he had destroyed vehicles after receiving payment from dealerships to dispose of them in accordance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA), Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act (CARS) program.  Mr. Taylor devised a scheme wherein the vehicles were actually being sold and exported out of the country.  Mr. Taylor was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $3,500 fine and $25 special assessment.

This investigation was initiated based on a discovery of two vehicles by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) at the Port of Oakland that were identified as having been trade-ins from the CARS program.  OIG executed a search warrant at Taylor's place of business in March 2011 and the evidence obtained determined that Mr. Taylor falsely represented to NHTSA and to car dealerships that he had destroyed the vehicles as he had been paid to do in accordance with the CARs program.  However, our investigation found that Mr. Taylor sold the two cars and had plans to export them out of the country by using the services of a freight-forwarder located in southern California.

This investigation was worked jointly with the CHP, with assistance provided from NHTSA.