August 20, 2014

Ex-Fort Worth business owner gets 28 months for EPA fraud

Former System Launch Associates owner Michael G. Johnson must pay more than $350,000 in restitution in an EPA fraud case, federal officials say.

A former Fort Worth business owner has been sentenced to more than two years in federal prison in an Environmental Protection Agency fraud case stemming from an operation he ran from 2009 through 2012.

Michael G. Johnson, 48, was sentenced to 28 months in prison and ordered to pay $354,529 in restitution in cases stemming from violations of the Clean Air Act.

Johnson was sentenced late Tuesday afternoon in a Dallas federal courtroom by U.S. District Judge Barbara M.G. Lynn. Johnson pleaded guilty in January to one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements under the Clean Air Act.

Federal authorities arrested Johnson in July 2013 in the Billings, Mont., area.

Federal court documents indicate that Johnson owned and operated System Launch Associates from his Fort Worth apartment from 2007 to 2009. After 2009, he conducted business in Dallas, Austin, Sterling Heights, Michigan and Miles City, Mont.

Johnson’s company claimed to arrange testing of new vehicles and vehicle engines for U.S. distributors of foreign-made vehicles, federal officials said. Under federal law, manufacturers are prohibited from selling a vehicle or engine unless covered by an EPA-issued certification of conformity. But federal officials said that System Launch did no testing and that Johnson fabricated testing data to get the certificates.

From August 2009 through June 2012, Johnson submitted numerous certificate-of-conformity applications and the EPA approved the certificates based on false information, according to federal documents.

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