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Northern California Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding NHTSA's "Cash for Clunkers" Program

On June 8, 2012, in U.S. District Court, Oakland, California, James F. Taylor, owner of Pinole-Rodeo Auto Wreckers, Rodeo, California, pleaded guilty for falsely certifying that he 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.  Taylor devised a scheme wherein the vehicles were actually being sold and exported out of the country.

This investigation was initiated based on the discovery of two vehicles by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) at the Port of Oakland that were identified as 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 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, the investigation found that 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.  Taylor's sentencing date is set for September 25, 2012.

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