New Jersey officials reportedly scanning Facebook to bait diesel truck sellers, threaten them with jail

New Jersey government officials are reportedly using Facebook to track down and bait diesel-powered vehicle owners whose trucks violate one of the state’s environmental laws.

The specific law in question, the Coal Rolling Law, states that “no person shall retrofit any diesel-powered vehicle with equipment that enhances the vehicle’s capacity to emit soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions,” according to Road & Track (R&T) magazine.

Thanks to Facebook, Mike Sebold, a New Jersey truck owner who last year purchased a pre-modified Dodge Ram 2500 with a 6.7-liter diesel engine, is the latest victim of this law.

Speaking with R&T magazine, he explained how, earlier this summer, he placed an ad on Facebook in an attempt to sell the modified Dodge Ram. That’s when trouble began brewing.

“I put it up on Facebook and got a couple of hits on it. People were asking questions but nothing out of the norm for Facebook Marketplace. One person asked me for a video of the truck running, wanting to see if there was any blow-by. I of course said no problem and sent them the video. I guess in that clip they could see there was no oil cooler installed, and then they asked to see the exhaust in another clip. There were no cats or DPF filters on the truck,” he told R&T.

Looking to sell a modified diesel truck in New Jersey? Don’t be surprised if state officials contact you and threaten you with fines and possibly even jail time. Here’s what you need to know.

Posted by Road & Track Magazine on Thursday, July 28, 2022

Days later, he received a packet from the DEP accusing him of having violated the state’s Coal Rolling Law.

“As I started to read through the packet it said that an evaluation of my vehicle was conducted on June 23rd. I went back through my Facebook messages and that is around the time I had sent those pictures, videos and vehicle description. I was sort of baited in, I guess,” he said.

“We don’t have state inspections of diesel vehicles here in New Jersey. I didn’t even know this was something I needed to be aware of, I was never told about it. The way that the truck runs now, the way it’s tuned, it doesn’t smoke at all regardless of what I’m doing with it.”

According to Sebold, DEP officials knew that his truck had been modified and demanded that he bring it into compliance, a feat that could cost him upwards of $10,000, or be sent to jail.

“As it sits, Sebold is legally barred from selling the truck by state statute N.J.A.C. 7:27-14.3(e), and must bring it into compliance before moving on from the vehicle. The assigned DEP agent on the case later informed Sebold he could ultimately scrap the offending engine, with DEP agents present to verify the act,” R&T notes.

“Once that is completed, the chassis is free to be sold as a roller or scrapped. Sebold can even install another diesel engine into that truck, but it must be one equipped with a factory emissions system. At this time, Sebold hasn’t decided which route he is going to take.”

Just a heads up for anyone listing diesel trucks on Facebook don’t put all the details and don’t trust the people asking…

Posted by Mike Sebold on Monday, July 25, 2022

In a statement to R&T, a DEP spokesperson disputed his claim that he’d been threatened with jail time. To hear the spokesperson tell it, violation of the Coal Rolling Law triggers nothing more than a $1,000 fine that increases with each repeat offense.

“DEP’s authority is penalty only. If the entity does not comply within the timeframe prescribed, the penalty could escalate to the next level. That next level will provide a compliance timeframe and if the entity remains out of compliance, the penalty could escalate again. Note that penalties are for each order issue, so the penalty becomes cumulative. At some point, accrued penalties could exceed the cost of repairs to some of these vehicles,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also refused to confirm that the department is using Facebook to track down and bait violators of the Coal Rolling Law.

“The Department is aware of social media platforms on which diesel vehicles with modified emissions systems are offered for sale or sold by someone in New Jersey. The act of trying to sell or selling a vehicle with a tampered emission system is a violation of rules,” the spokesperson said.

“When the Department becomes aware of such a sale or attempted sale, an appropriate enforcement action is issued to the seller or attempted seller, and the person is required to come into compliance with New Jersey regulations. If the person does not come into compliance, they may be subject to penalties.”

Despite this statement, several “other diesel truck owners” have confirmed that they’ve “had similar experiences,” according to The Drive.

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