Co-owner of two Clark County automotive businesses convicted for violating Clean Air Act


The co-owner of two Clark County automotive businesses was convicted on Thursday, May 23, in the U.S. District Court in Tacoma of conspiracy and 11 felony counts of violating the federal Clean Air Act for tampering with diesel truck emissions-monitoring systems. 

Tracy Coiteux, 44, of La Center, is the co-owner of Racing Performance Maintenance Northwest, known as RPM, and a related sales company called RPM Motors and Sales NW. A jury convicted Coiteux following a three-day jury trial. The jury deliberated for three hours before returning the guilty verdicts. U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle scheduled sentencing for Aug. 19, a release by the Department of Justice stated.

An indictment returned in May 2021, charged Coiteux and her husband, Sean Coiteux, 50, and the service manager, Nick Akerill, 44, with conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and 11 specific violations of the Clean Air Act for tampering with the emissions-monitoring system on vehicles when removing pollution control equipment between January 2018 and November 2020.

Sean Coiteux, who owns the businesses with his wife, pleaded guilty to tampering with pollution controls in March in the U.S. District Court in Tacoma, according to previous reporting by the Reflector.

Sean Coiteux admitted to directing his employees to tamper with federally-required pollution control hardware on hundreds of diesel trucks and with the pollution-monitoring systems, the DOJ stated.

Sean Coiteux also pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act. Previously, an RPM Motors and Sales associate pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act. Sean Coiteux is expected to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle on June 24, 2024.

In the plea agreement, Sean Coiteux admitted that, between January 2018 and January 2021, he directed employees to delete pollution-control software and devices on diesel trucks he sold or serviced. Their companies charged between $1,000 and $2,000 for this work. The companies made these changes to approximately 375 diesel trucks over three years and received $538,477 in fees, the DOJ stated.

“By removing required pollution-control devices, the defendants caused their customers’ diesel trucks to spew pollutants into the air at a rate of up to 1,200 times the pollution caused by compliant trucks,”  U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said in a previous news release. “This conduct increased toxins in our environment that are linked to cancer, as well as pulmonary, neurological, cardiovascular and immune system damage. The pollution causes particular harm to disadvantaged communities who live near freeways and other high traffic areas.”

According to case records, Sean Coiteux directed his employees to modify legally required software that ensures the vehicles’ emissions remain within legal limits. RPM Motors and Sales staff occasionally offered — as part of the sale of a truck — to remove the emissions-control system after a customer purchased a truck. Email and other electronic records documented the purchase of equipment and software kits to remove the pollution control and reprogram the monitoring systems, according to the release. These modifications, which are known as “tunes” and “deletes,” are marketed to truck owners as improving vehicle power and performance, the DOJ stated.

In September 2022, service manager Nick Akerill pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to a motor vehicle emission-control systems violation and was sentenced to serve on a work crew for 30 days.

Conspiracy is punishable by up to five years in prison. Each violation of the federal Clean Air Act is punishable by up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Prosecutors have agreed to recommend Sean Coiteux serve no more than six months in prison. Settle is not bound by the recommendation and can impose any sentence allowed by law, stated the DOJ.