Man sentenced for installing emissions ‘defeat devices’ on trucks

March 5, 2020

Tyson Fisher


An employee for a Pennsylvania logistics company has been sentenced for his role in installing defeat devices on trucks to circumvent Clean Air Act regulations.

On Feb. 12, the Middle District of Pennsylvania federal court sentenced Brian Mellott to six months imprisonment and one year of supervised release for using defeat devices. Last August, Mellott entered into a plea agreement for one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and to violate the Clean Air Act.

According to the indictment filed in August 2018, Mellott, an inventory and logistics analyst for Canonsburg, Pa.-based Rockwater Northeast LLC, agreed to reduce repair costs and maintenance downtime caused by malfunctioning and deteriorating emissions systems. Mellott replaced hardware emissions control devices on Rockwater trucks that were equipped with engines with exhaust tubing or straight pipes.

This was done by removing the emissions control devices from their compartments. Entry points were then re-welded to create the illusion that the control devices remained installed. From there, Mellott purchased defeat devices, which were labeled as “complete exhaust systems” and “replace exhaust systems” 0n invoices.

These defeat devices were used to disable the on-board diagnostics systems on the trucks that had emissions control devices removed.

When inspected by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the vehicles with defeat devices were certified as meeting safety standards.

According to the indictment, emissions control devices were removed from more than 30 trucks from August 2013 to June 2014. Around that same time, Mellott purchased about 50 defeat devices and straight pipes. More than 30 vehicles had their diagnostics systems disabled by the defeat devices.

Mellott was charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and three counts of actual violations. Initially, Mellott pleaded not guilty. He reached a plea agreement approximately one year later in August 2019.  Mellott pleaded guilty to the one conspiracy count. The three counts of Clean Air Act violations were dropped.