An auto shop owner today pleaded not guilty to 21 felony counts of falsifying records for allegedly contriving bogus smog check certifications.
Cahit Bingol stands accused of manufacturing clean bills of health for errant vehicles at his shop in South San Francisco between Sept. 22 and Oct. 21 of 2010, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
State law requires owners of most motor vehicles in certain parts of the state to pass a Smog Check inspection every two years and every time vehicle title is transferred.
Until recently, Bingol's Smog Zone Test Only Center 1086 Grand Ave. stood in good stead with the California Bureau of Automotive Repair, which oversees licensing for smog check technicians.
Automated data collected by the bureau alerted officials to possible fraud, and video surveillance of the shop during the four-day period showed Bingol generating seven phony certificates by utilizing the “clean pipe” and “clean plug” methods. Both methods can generate certificates for a vehicle by utilizing emission data from other vehicles or sources.
The district attorney has filed three felony charges for each of the seven bogus certifications. All three are punishable by county imprisonment for 16 months, or two or three years.
Bingol surrendered his Smog Check Program licenses.
A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 6.