by: Tom Jones Updated:CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. —
Nine men are accused of providing bogus emissions tests for drivers whose cars couldn’t pass the inspection.
Douglas County authorities charged eight of the nine suspects with racketeering charges. Michael Knight, Corey Brown, Paul Spicer, Brent Ooten, Roje Harris, Raymond Mitchell, Duane Brooks and Bello Momodu and Meredith Cromartie all went before Douglas County Chief Magistrate Judge Susan Camp to hear the charges Wednesday.
Most told the judge they had done nothing wrong.
"I haven't done no emissions a day in my life," Brown said.
Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division Officer Todd Binnion told the judge that's not true. Binnion said Tavaris Despinosse, who wasn’t in court, set up an emission shop on Bankhead Highway in Douglasville, but it wasn’t open to the public.
The officer said the defendants would send Despinosse vehicle information for people who couldn't pass emissions inspections. Binnion said Despinosse would then perform an emission test on a car that could pass and send that information in for the failing car. He said the defendants would charge approximately $125 for the fake inspections.
Knight told the judge he was an emissions inspector but his identification information had gotten into the wrong hands.
"My number was stolen, and I told them that when I turned it in," Knight said. "I never did an emissions test in my entire life."
Spicer said he would point people who needed help with their test to other people but said he never profited from that and wasn't trying to do anything wrong.
"I'm not understanding what it is that they really saying I did that was a crime, like he's contending it was some John Gotti or Gambino stuff," Spicer said.
The judge denied bond for most of the men because of their criminal histories.
Prosecutors said Fulton County authorities are also investigating some of the men involved in the case for fraudulent emissions inspections there.