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Affordable Towing owner sentenced for Clean Air Act violations

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The owner of southwest Missouri company Affordable Towing has been sentenced for Clean Air Act violations.

Dennis Cleveland, 73, was ordered to spend two years in federal prison without parole and pay a $255,000 fine, according to a news release from the office of Teresa Moore, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

Cleveland pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and one count of tampering with a Clean Air Act monitoring device.

“This business owner intentionally polluted the air in southwest Missouri for more than a decade with massive amounts of cancer-causing toxins in violation of federal law,” Moore said in the release. “He pursued personal profit at the expense of the environment and the health of his neighbors. And he brazenly continued dumping dangerous pollutants into the air, and ultimately into the lungs of everyone in the community, even after pleading guilty and being admonished by the court.”

Cleveland has admitted that since 2011 he directed employees to physically disable emissions control components on multiple heavy-duty diesel tow trucks. Court documents indicate each of Cleveland’s 12 illegally altered tow trucks was responsible for releasing the equivalent pollution of 1,140 legally operating tow trucks.

Cleveland continued to operate his illegally modified fleet after being contacted by law enforcement in September 2022 and pleading guilty earlier this year, according to the release. His bond was revoked on July 20, and he's since been detained in federal custody.

Federal officials said the tow trucks were tampered with to save money by avoiding maintenance expenses on emissions control systems and by spending less on fuel. The release indicates Affordable Towing is based in Kirbyville.

Cleveland conspired with Robert Dyche, 67, of Springfield, owner and operator of Full Flash Tuning, according to the release.

Dyche, who also pleaded guilty in March, is awaiting sentencing.

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