Auto Service World
News   June 29, 2017   by Allan Janssen

Jury finds tech guilty of issuing fraudulent safety certificate

Safety certificate issued one month before a 1995 Dodge Ram with over 400,000 kilometres on the odometer, holes in the floor, and faulty steering went out of control and killed a 27-year-old woman.

On Aug. 3, 2012 – the Friday of the Civic holiday long weekend – Abigail McNaughton’s Honda Civic was struck on County Road 4, just outside Peterborough City limits. She died in hospital.

A former shop owner and licensed technician has been found guilty of issuing a fraudulent safety certificate for a vehicle involved in a fatal crash in 2012.

He was, however, found not guilty of the more serious charge of criminal negligence causing death.

Joe Ramono of Scarborough, Ont. was charged nearly four years ago, following the crash which took the life of 27-year-old Abigail MacNaughton of Peterborough, Ont.

Ramono had, a month before the crash, certified one of the vehicles as being safe. But a joint investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation (MTO) found the 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 was not roadworthy.

It had over 400,000 km on the odometer, no muffler, holes in the floor, exposed wires, rusted cab mounts, and – most troubling – a faulty steering shaft with over 120 mm of free play.

Assistant Crown attorney Lisa Wannamaker described it as “a vehicular ticking time bomb.”

Joe Ramono, of Scarborough, arrives at Superior Court of Ontario in Peterborough, Ont. Photo by Jason Bain, courtesy of Post Media.

She said Ramono had issued the safety certificate without ever seeing the vehicle. She sought to convict him of that charge and, further, of being criminally negligent in MacNaughton’s death.

Following a month-long trial in Peterborough, a jury of eight women and four men found Ramono guilty this afternoon on the forgery charges but stopped short of holding him responsible for MacNaugton’s death.

The driver of that vehicle, Billy Towns of Lakefield, Ont., pleaded guilty to dangerous driving. He will be sentenced on June 30 by Justice Hugh O’Connell of the Superior Court of Ontario tomorrow.

Ramono will be sentenced by Justice Stephen Bale.

Wannamaker told CARS magazine she will be seeking jail time.

CARS will post more details as they are available.

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9 Comments » for Jury finds tech guilty of issuing fraudulent safety certificate
  1. Hans P. says:

    I hope he had his license revoked!

  2. Bob Ward says:

    An example needs to be made here with this conviction. If the owner requested this safety, he should be held accountable as well as the tech who wrote the safety. This tech should have his trade license taken away and not allowed to be re-certified ever again. If this was published in the public press it would send a clear message to people doing this kind of work.

    • W. Robbins says:

      I agree 100%. Too many shops issue safety certificates without inspecting or even seeing the vehicle. Make an example of this guy

  3. Darren says:

    Safety slips are only good for 30 days and once that goes by tech is wiped clean of it and by what this is saying it was 30 days by saying a month after so a slap on the wrist is all they can do because they dont know what the owner does after the safety is allready done and quite fankley they don’t care or want to know!

  4. Glenn says:

    Issuing a fraudulent Safety Certificate is one thing which ofcourse should never be done, but did the unsafe vehicle cause the crash? Or was the dangerous driving at fault?

  5. Chelsey says:

    I completely agree with Bob. This should be published to the paper, and if it works anything like here in Saskatchewan then it will be. This sort of thing is the reason we get so many people calling our small shop asking if we could just pass their vehicle because to them, it runs well. And don’t you know, the last shop said they would.

  6. George S says:

    You cannot afford to compromise your position as a responsible technician and pass a vehicle because the customer is a nice person, or is too ‘broke’ to fix it properly. Back when I had boys living at home, their friends came around constantly, asking me to fill out the certification form(s) so they could get their insurance. I always told them to bring their vehicle over to the shop and I’ll have a look at it.

    “Can’t you just sign it off? I won’t tell anyone.” How many times have we heard that one?

    I just tell them that I won’t sign it off without seeing it first. I might have eventually inspected a quarter of them.

    Even if it isn’t an inspection, someone brings a vehicle to the shop and I find that it is unsafe, I ‘drop the door’ on it; either it gets fixed–properly–or it gets towed off the property. I had a guy come in complaining about his brakes not working properly and vibrating to the point of shaking his fillings out when he stepped on the brakes. It turned out that both front rotors had turned into ‘turbine wheels’ and his rear drums were almost worn through. I wrote up an estimate to which the owner replied: “Just put it back together; I’ll fix it later.” I told him that I’d put it back together but he had to get it towed; I wouldn’t let him drive it off the property. I DID tell him that if he drove it away I’d have to phone the police and tell them that an unsafe vehicle was on the road. Fortunately he relented and let us fix it. But I shudder to think what would’ve happened if he’d gotten into a collision after leaving the shop.

    Bottom line: We’ve got enough enemies with those TV ‘exposures’ telling the general public what crooks and rip-off artists we are. We can’t afford to prove them right….

  7. Paul Price says:

    Too many times I hear about stuff like this & too many times nothing is done about it. Here in Nova Scotia, we inspect ever 2 years & many things fall into “the owners” responsibility but when they get pulled over in a mass safety inspection checkpoint, they claim they didn’t know or throw the last person or shop that worked on it under the bus.
    In short stand up & follow the rules laid out & if it passes & you feel it’s safe & would let your family use it great but if it’s not fit for the road stand your ground & say no if this slams into your personal vehicle & harms, or worse kills, some one you care about. That is the decision I weigh every time I put a provincial MVI sticker on a vehicle.
    Too many shops push techs to just sticker it or the tech couldn’t care less or even worse has no business inspecting vehicles they have hardly ever touched or are totally in the dark on where the fault area(s) are & just aren’t qualified to look at it or inspect it.

  8. Hi , in Europe Vehicles have to be inspected every 2 years , called TUV . Very very tuff , and rightly so . This Inspection is NOT done just by any normal repairshop , it will be done by a TUV Shop , Brakes and Shocks will be tested on Brakeroller Test Equipment and Suspensiontester , Rustdamage if more than 3 mm will need to be repaired , slighly rusted Braketubing and cracked Hoses will need to be replaced , any Rustdamage ( Holes ) , Car will be taking off the Road > I hope , that one day soon , this will be the Law in Canada and USA !

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